Take Two for October 17, 2012

Former policymaker criticizes mental health policies he helped create

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Forty Photographs/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

National Alliance on Mental Illness tallied state budget cuts to mental health services between 2008 and today and found that 32 states and Washington, D.C., cut funding just as economic stressors such as layoffs and home foreclosures boosted demand for services.

Paul Gionfriddo has a unique perspective on our mental health care system. As a former state legislator in Conneticut, Gionfriddo was tasked with leading the state's mental health care policy.

At the time the it was a subject he knew little about, but all that would change in a few short years when this issue suddenly became personal.

His adopted son Tim started displaying disturbing behaviors. He was aggressive, erratic and once during kindergarten he even laid down in the middle of the road waiting for a car to run him over.

Tim was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Today, he's 27 years old, lives in San Francisco and is homeless.

Gionfriddo writes about his son's journey in a recent story for the journal Health Affairs. In it he argues that his own generation of lawmakers have created a mental health system that has gravely failed.


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