by Comprehensive Staff

12/31/2015 12:02 am

Last Week Tonight Comments on State of US Mental Health System

In a recent episode of the HBO series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, host John Oliver examined the current state of the U.S. mental health system. First pointing out how rarely we talk about mental illness and then showing how incorrectly we talk about it once the topic finally comes up, the segment focuses on how disorganized and underfunded the mental health system is. By pointing out the ways in which our system is lacking—for instance, that 2 million people with mental illness are in state and local jails, 10 times the number in state-funded psychiatric treatment—Oliver makes clear how very little effort has been put into meeting this basic health need. Though there are a few bright spots, like the increase in crisis intervention training for law enforcement and the expansion of Assertive Community Services, Oliver demonstrates that, as a country, we have an awful lot of progress left to make. You can watch the segment here, though some of the language used may be offensive to some people.

Video link: https://youtu.be/NGY6DqB1HX8


Fortunately, here in Washington State and at Comprehensive specifically, we’re doing better than other areas. Washington has a new requirement for law enforcement officers to receive at least 8 hours of training in crisis intervention and de-escalation, which Comprehensive is providing throughout the eastern part of the state. The State is also piloting several new treatments, like our New Journeys First Episode Psychosis program and our WISe (Wraparound with Intensive Services) program for youths. Comprehensive has the PACT Team (Program for Assertive Community Treatment), which provides intensive, all-inclusive mental health services to adults, similar to what Oliver touched on in the above clip. Additionally, we have residential and recreational programs for clients, plus an integrated primary care clinic partnership with Yakima Neighborhood Health.

We know that there are significant challenges in the mental health system, but we're not content with the status quo. At Comprehensive, we are always looking for ways to improve and expand on the services we provide for our community.