Resolution on Mental Health and Addiction Services
SENATOR LUZ ARCE FERRER (PR) INTRODUCED AUG. 2012 MEETING (RATIFIED)
WHEREAS mental health is essential to one's overall health and well-being and associated conditions will strike one in five adults each year regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion or economic status; and
WHEREAS many Hispanic rely on family, community, traditional healers, and churches for help during a mental health crisis. As a result, thousands of Hispanic with mental illness often go without professional mental health treatment; and
WHEREAS many Hispanic Americans find the strain of acculturation overwhelming. Their traditional values and beliefs are often at odds with the new culture, and they may lack family support and face language barriers.
WHEREAS studies have shown that Hispanic youth are at risk for higher levels of emotional distress because of the pressures to rapidly adopt the values of their new culture as well as inequality, poverty, and discrimination; and
WHEREAS lack of access to mental health services continues to be the most serious problem in the Hispanic community. Latinos use mental-health services far less than other ethnic and racial groups; and
WHEREAS, Latinos are the largest demographic among individuals that are uninsured.
WHEREAS while insurance plays a large role in accessing healthcare, culture and language are also significant barriers. The lack of interpreters and bilingual professionals can interfere with appropriate evaluation, treatment, and emergency response.
WHEREAS studies show that Hispanics often have different attitudes about accessing mental health services, and may feel highly stigmatized for doing so; and
WHEREAS more than half of all prison and jail inmates – including Latino inmates - have a mental health problem; and
WHEREAS thousands of youth are placed each year in child welfare or juvenile justice systems due to unmet intensive mental health needs; and
WHEREAS research has established that most mental disorders are as treatable and manageable as general medical conditions, and, with proper treatment, persons with mental illness have at least a 75 percent rate of recovery compared to coronary disease which has only a 50 percent success rate; and
WHEREAS people with mental illness who are in recovery can lead full, productive lives in the community; and
WHEREAS the indirect costs of mental illnesses are estimated at $79 billion, $63 billion of that due to lost productivity; and
WHEREAS nationally the economic costs of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse is well over $254.7 billion annually with $97.7 billion due to drug abuse; and
WHEREAS more than half of the children involved in the foster care system have parents with drug, tobacco or alcohol related problems; and
WHEREAS approximately ten million Americans have co-occurring addictive and mental disorders – including alcoholism and addiction to cigarettes or drugs; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that NHCSL will advocate for expanded coverage and funding for mental health and addiction services, including funding for policies that foster healthier communities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NHCSL will also advocate for policies that curb excessive access to tobacco and alcohol in communities of color and to provide improved treatment alternatives to sentencing for non-violent offenders of drug related crimes; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NHCSL will develop collaborations with other nonprofit organization, government agencies or individuals to develop further defined views of those policies that best advocate for affordable, culturally competent mental health and addiction services; and training of additional professionals in these fields; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, a copy of this Resolution will be transmitted to leadership of the Committees of jurisdiction in Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services, White House, and organizations that advocate similar views.
THIS RESOLUTION WAS ADOPTED ON AUGUST 25, 2012, AT THE NHCSL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING HELD IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA AND RATIFIED AT THE NHCSL 2012 ANNUAL MEETING HELD IN ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO ON NOVEMBER 17, 2012.
Sponsored by: Senator Luz Arce Ferrer (PR)