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On getting bang for your buck/ The financial cost of no care

Posted Feb 05 2010 12:10pm

I found some statistics today I wanted to share. They are statistics for my countyBlount CountyTennessee. But it might give you a way to look at where you live. Just as a comparision Blount County probably has a little over 100,000 people.

One of the common things you heard said is that people with mental illness have a greater than normal chance of ending up in jail. Blount County has 3 law enforcement agencies. These are the stats for Blount County prisoners. It does not include the cost of state and federal prisoners held there.

Average population- 382
Approx 30% of inmates are prescribed psychotropic medication. They may be seen by social worker once a week if the inmate requests. Psychiatrist visits once a week. Only sees those referred by social worker.

Pharmacy costs run about 36,000 a year. Other mental health services run about $52,000 a year.

They have an average of 49 mental health related transports a month. This is an additional expense of about $17,000 a year. The total mental health budget is about $105,000 a year. And this is for only one of our law enforcement agencies.

They have seen a steady rise in costs over the last couple of years and are predicting a serious increase in the coming year.

Another cost of poor mental health care is suicide. Blount County had 17 suicides this past year. Almost all of them were correlated with alcoholand unsuccessful treatment for a mental illness. Most of them were people who had gotten some kind of treatment and then dropped out. You cant put numbers on human tragedybut today for the first time I saw an accounting of what it actually costs Blount County:

2008- 26 suicides- between medical cost and work loss cost- $29.5 million
2009- 17 suicides- between medical cost and work loss cost- $19.3 million

For a small community great costs. And this obviously doesnt begin to touch the costs of poor care. This is only two small indicators. On any level mental illness is a tragedy for all- individuals. familiesand communities- and on many different levels.

How has it affected your community? How will budget cuts affect your community?

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