With record levels of opiate addiction, increased suicide rates (the leading cause of death among adolescents), and rising rates of homelessness, Vermont is in desperate need for organizations focused on improving the mental and behavioral situation in Vermont.
Here is the state of behavioral and mental health in Vermont:
1 in 5 Vermonters suffers from a severe behavioral health problem, yet less than 1% of the state budget is spent on behavioral health services.
2 out of every 3 dollars spent on Vermont’s behavioral health care has been diverted to other areas for the past decade.
Vermonters have waited more than 10 years for substantial improvements to their behavioral health system. It’s time for a change.
The status quo in Vermont is unacceptable:
More than 1,000 Vermonters are on a waiting list to see their psychiatrist or counselor. 500 of those will wait more than six months. The situation has gotten worse over the past 10 years, not better.
1 out of 3 Vermonters with a severe mental illness had to be hospitalized in the past year. This is more than three times the rate for people without a mental illness.
The average daily census for all State-operated psychiatric units in Vermont is just over 160 patients, even though there are 752 licensed state beds and approximately 1,000 other beds available in the community. This is more than twice the occupancy rate experts recommend for safety and quality of care.
Inpatient psychiatric services are at risk of being eliminated or reduced to a skeleton crew due to proposed cuts in state funding, despite the fact that every dollar spent on psychiatry saves up to $36 dollars in other costs.
Vermont’s suicide rate is the 5th highest in the country, and has been for the past decade. Suicide takes a terrible toll on families and communities across Vermont: 15 Vermonters die by suicide every year, and half of all suicides are committed with a gun.
As hospitals close or reduce services, patients are being forced to travel long distances for needed care. In some cases, this can mean traveling hundreds of miles from home just to receive basic care for a mental illness or addiction problem.
The status quo is dangerous:
Staff at Vermont’s public behavioral health hospitals have been assaulted more than 2,500 times in the past three years. Staff assaults are almost twice as frequent as patient-on-patient assaults.
Attempts to improve safety at Vermont’s public behavioral health hospitals have been repeatedly thwarted by nurses and other staff who are afraid that reporting violent behavior will trigger the loss of overtime opportunities. The sad result is a culture of unsafe working conditions for hospital employees and unwarranted risks for patients.
The state’s underfunded, overburdened behavioral health system combines with Vermont’s lethal gun culture to create a dangerous cocktail of risk and tragedy.
Vermont has the highest rate of firearm suicide in the country – well above the national average. Suicide by firearms is more than twice as effective as other methods, such as suffocation or poisoning.
The status quo makes it nearly impossible for many Vermonters to obtain needed treatment:
One-third of all visits to behavioral health care providers in Vermont are by Medicaid patients, yet Medicaid pays only 30% of the cost of outpatient mental health services. Vermonters with private insurance face high deductibles and copays that can make treatment unaffordable even when insurance coverage exists.
The State’s “safety net” has become a frayed safety net:
Inadequate reimbursement and bureaucratic barriers have forced many private providers to stop providing mental health services. Others are limiting their practices to crisis care, leaving little or no access to long-term treatment for children, adolescents and adults.
Vermont’s behavioral health system is based on a fragmented approach that relies on more than 200 separate organizations. The result is an expensive system that provides poor coordination of services, resulting in gaps in care and a “revolving door” for many patients.
Vermont is falling behind: Vermont has one of the worst records of addressing child mental health needs, ranking 48th in the nation on this important measure. We rank 31 st in preventing suicide and are 49th in preventing alcohol and drug abuse.
Given the confusing state of affairs and the tremendous need, let us help you. We know the funding options and government programs you can take advantage of. Our staff are well trained. Contact us.