A look at California’s mental health and drug problems - Sovereign Health Group
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According to the California Healthcare Foundation: “Nearly 1 in 6 California adults has a mental health need, and approximately 1 in 20 suffers from a serious mental illness that makes it difficult to carry out major life activities. The rate among children is even higher: 1 in 13 suffers from a mental illness that limits participation in daily activities.” With California’s Medicaid expansion program; people are hoping these statistics will change but it will take years before anyone can see the full effects. Before diving into the hard statistics, it is important to take a look at how mental health is changing in California.

“Currently, federal rules limit drug treatment centers’ ability to get reimbursed under Medicaid for residential care. Clinics with more than 16 beds essentially cannot get paid, except for treating pregnant and postpartum women. That restriction will be dropped for California under the waiver. … Now, Medi-Cal beneficiaries will be able to access up to two 90-day residential stays each year (with a possibility of one 30-day extension) if providers determine that it is medically necessary. Certain populations, including those in the criminal justice system, can get approval for longer stays,” according to an article.

Taking a deeper look into the statistics

  • Fact: Approximately half of adults who need treatment for mental health do not receive treatment. Does this mean that they are not seeking treatment or that they cannot obtain treatment due to insurance, or both?
  • Fact: Approximately two-thirds of adolescents in California are not provided treatment for mental health, despite the availability of child/adolescent psychologists who received extra training just to provide treatment to this population.
  • Fact: There is a large racial and ethnic gap for the incidence and prevalence of mental illnesses in the adult population. Native Americans and African Americans are affected and disadvantaged the most.
  • Fact: Not only is there an ethnic gap, but there is also a socioeconomic gap. The lower class is more at risk for and has a higher rate of mental illness than the upper and middle classes.
  • Fact: Mental illnesses have been the No. 1 reason for hospital admissions in California in children aged 19 years and under.
  • Fact: On average nine California residents lose their lives through suicide per day.
  • Fact: More California residents have died from suicide than homicide.

Drug statistics in California

Substance abuse issues in California are no different than the mental health problems the state houses. Obtaining a medicinal marijuana card is as easy as obtaining a Costco card, leading to an even greater abuse of marijuana. Take a look at the facts.

  • Fact: 25 percent of voluntary California primary drug treatment admissions were for marijuana, while 36 percent were for stimulants.
  • Fact: Approximately 10 percent of California residents reported illicit drug use within the past month.
  • Fact: The rate of drug-induced deaths in California is lower than the national average.
  • Fact: Deaths involving narcotic prescription medications have increased by 16.5 percent since 2006.

So where do we go from here?

The statistics on mental health and substance abuse in California are staggering and clearly there needs to be a call to action. As California residents, we can do a couple of things. We can educate ourselves on this epidemic and learn where the closest mental health centers and rehab centers are. We can look for signs of mental illness and substance abuse in our loved ones and educate them on seeking help. We can educate ourselves on the laws and when election years come, we can vote accordingly. Starting at the grassroots level might be the only way we can help, but it is a start.

Sovereign Health of California has several locations in the state and provides treatment for substance addiction, mental illnesses, and co-occurring conditions. For more information, feel free to call our 24/7 helpline.

Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer

For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at news@sovhealth.com.

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