NAMI State Report Shows Budgets, New Laws In Each State: What’s Happening in Your State?


Kudos to the National Alliance on Mental Illness for publishing its third annual state survey  that identifies major mental health legislation by state and also reports which legislatures have increased or cut spending for much needed mental health care.

My home state of Virginia got high ratings largely because it implemented a psychiatric inpatient bed registry system that was championed by state Senator  Creigh Deeds  after he was unable to get his son, Gus, into a local hospital. Gus later attacked his father before ending his own life.

Deeds has used that preventable tragedy to become a tour-de-force in Virginia. He’s an inspiring example of the power of one person to bring about major changes! It’s nice to read that Virginia is actually being praised rather than ending up near the bottom of mental health lists.

Please download NAMI’s state-by-state report and check your state. Not only will you learn if your elected leaders upped or cut mental health budgets, you’ll also be able to read about key mental health legislation that has been passed. You can compare how other states have reacted legislatively to issues such as civil commitment and court-ordered treatment, early intervention, Medicaid and Medicaid Expansion, Health Insurance parity, children and youth services, suicide, and your state’s criminal justice system.  Gold stars pinpoint useful bills and red flags are used to spotlight awful bills.

An interesting finding is that only 23 states increased mental health spending in 2015, compared to 29 in 2014 and 36 in 2013. Why the downward trend? One possible explanation is that the Newtown school shooting happened in December 14, 2012. That horrific event made mental health care — and lack of it — a priority, at least for a while.

This same trend unfortunately happened in Virginia after the Virginia Tech killings that resulted in 33 deaths in April 2007. State legislators passed more than $40 million in new funding to be spread over a two year period. Less than two years later, the state mandated $50 million in cuts to the state mental care budget.

This is why we need champions such as Senator Deeds and NAMI to keep a watchful eye on funding and key legislation.

Click here to read the comprehensive report.   Press release here. 

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.