Hawai‘i improves mental health care

Hawai‘i improved from a position of dead last to one of the top 15 states, according to the first state-by-state report on the nation’s mental health care system in more than 15 years, state Department of Health officials said in a press release.

The report, “Grading the States: A Report on America’s Health Care System for Serious Mental Illnesses,” funded by leaders of the Stanley Family Foundation, was released by officials with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The report states, “In the ensuing 16 years, through hard work and federal pressure, Hawai‘i is potentially poised to be applauded as most improved of any state in this report.” No states received an “A,” only five states received a “B,” and 10 states received grades of “C+” or “C.” Hawai‘i’s overall grade was a “C.” Highlights of the individual state report on Hawai‘i include recognition of the state’s re-invention of the Hawaii State Hospital; Dr. Thomas Hester’s leadership to turn around a failing system; an “A” grade for recovery supports; a transparent action plan that builds a community system with a solid foundation that can be sustainable long after court oversight leaves Hawai‘i; and Gov. Linda Lingle’s leadership to help “debunk” the stigma of mental illness and move insurance parity for mental illness from legislation to law.

The report also credits the role of leaders of the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal court system in the continued development of Hawai‘i’s community-based mental health care system.

The full report is available at www.nami.org/grades.

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