Healing the Broken Mind: Transforming America’s Failed Mental Health System
Timothy A. Kelly
New York University Press ( www.nyupress.org), $25.95
In this year of debate over healthcare reform, a former state mental health commissioner shares his 30 years of experience to describe the failings of mental health care in the United States and to advocate a major overhaul. Kelly is a former commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services. His experience in the workings of state institutions and outpatient service-providers is eye-opening and lends support to his proposals for reform.
The book includes statistics to bolster his arguments, but the most influential material comes from his descriptions of real families trying to get help for desperately ill and misunderstood loved ones. He describes the problems of over-medication, poor insurance coverage and behind-the-scenes incompetence among staff in mental health facilities. The book also focuses on the much-discussed notion of parity in mental health treatment and the loopholes in parity laws that are barriers to treatment.
Kelly, currently director of the DePree Public Policy Institute, does not suggest that more money will fix the system. “The status quo is broken,” he writes. What is needed is funding to create a new system of outcome-oriented, community-based services that is both innovative and accountable. It’s a tall order, but Kelly makes a good case for giving it our best shot.
– Shari Roan