Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Regional Integrated Behavioral Health Network

Here is a student paper in favor of extending more services for mental illness and substance addictions into rural areas and small cities and towns, where such services are now often unavailable. 

            The purpose of this bill is to provide more accessible treatment services for those suffering from a substance abuse illnesses along with mental health illnesses. Currently, it is difficult for people to find adequate services that fit their needs. The bill would create the Regional Integrated Behavioral Health Network Act to ensure the appropriate treatment would be made accessible and resources could be used efficiently and effectively. Rural areas are currently lacking in services, so the goal of the networks is to allow them to use the same treatment as the urban residents. They need to be able to access legitimate and appropriate care no matter where they may reside.

            Statistically, there is an estimate of about 25% of people living in Illinois that are over eighteen years old that have had incidents with a mental or substance abuse disorder. Also, 700,000 Illinois residents that are adults have a serious mental illness. Finally, 240,000 Illinois children and adolescents suffer from a serious emotional disturbance. These people may be going without treatment at any point in time because no treatment center is located near them, which makes treatment less accessible, because the distance is a barrier. This is mostly caused from fragmentation, geographic inconsistency, lack of funds, psychiatric and other workforce shortages. The far distances to adequate treatment centers makes transportation an issue, as many low-income persons in less densely populated areas of the state live without owning cars, and cannot afford gas for regular long commutes even if they own cars. If they cannot reach a treatment facility, they cannot receive and benefit from treatment.

            Since the people are not able to receive the proper treatment, they experience increased suffering, and may lose their ability to function in their social roles or even their daily activities. This loss of functioning and increase in suffering can push people to increase their use of medical services or emergency medical care. If drug treatment and mental health services were available and accessible, the persons receiving treatment would increase their productivity at work, or would be more likely to find employment. Their unemployment is causing many of them to become homeless. Persons who face addiction or mental illness without treatment or help may withdraw from their social support networks, or actively repulse those who love them and would care for them, and this decreasing desire to be a part of their family and/or communities may lead to additional problems. Persons with untreated mental illness and addictions are often unable to complete their schooling. These people are ending up behind bars or even dying. None of these scenarios or effects is an example of how we want our people to be living. It is not fair to them to not receive their proper treatment. Illinois needs to respond to the different regions to work out a more integrated system of treatment in which services are available in smaller towns and rural areas that are distant from the state’s cities. The correct care needs to be delivered at the appropriate time to the persons who desperately need it.

            There are many goals associated with this bill, but there is one main one. The hopes are that the networks will be able to allow people to access the most effective treatment for their mental and substance abuse illnesses throughout Illinois, but focuses in rural areas of Illinois. It is most important for the different treatment centers to work together as to make the process run smoother. The people are suffering and it is having highly adverse effects not only on them, but also the community. 

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