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People with serious mental illness are overrepresented in the justice system, and most county jails in the United States house three times as many people with serious mental illness as would be expected from community-based estimates. The authors of a newly released paper in the Think Bigger Do Good Policy Series review the complex array of factors that contribute to this problem and offer suggestions to address this crisis, including the behavioral health system being Intercept 0, intervening before law enforcement or a crisis response team.
Authors, Natalie Bonfine, Ph.D., Amy Blank Wilson, Ph.D., L.S.W., and Mark R. Munetz, M.D., share recommendations and policy implications for the community behavioral health system to operate as an effective Intercept 0, instead of the criminal justice system. The recommendations include, but are not limited to, the behavioral health system:widening and deepening its array of services including master integration at multiple levels; promoting innovation and adaptability among state and mental health authority leadership; changing the narrative from one of blaming the overrepresentation on a failed mental health system or lack of inpatient beds to focus on the true complexities of the issues; and; increasing funding to community behavioral health programming to allow for access to high quality care that addresses the social determinants of health.
The funders of the Think Bigger Do Good Policy Series believe that now more than ever, philanthropic support in the area of policy is critical to improving the health outcomes for all. The authors, advisory group, and funders of the paper know that broad advocacy works. Please share this paper with your local, state, and/or federal policy and decision-makers and join us in advocating for policy reforms and restructured financing models to increase access to integrated behavioral health services.