A study published in the April 01, 2006 issue of Health Services Research found evidence of a positive relationship between religious service attendance and the outcome of outpatient mental health care. Author Sharon L. Larson reports that among patients with serious distress, there was a strong association with religious beliefs and the use of outpatient care and medication, indicating that mental health care policy initiatives may be able to build upon the structures and referral processes that presently exist in many religious organizations.
The vast majority of numerous studies that have investigated the relationship between religious involvement and mental and emotional well-being have found a positive association, and a decreased likelihood of experiencing a mental health disorder. Moreover, studies of patients with diagnosed psychiatric disorders have also found that religious involvement is associated with better mental health outcomes over time. Other studies indicate that while religious providers play a fairly small role in the mental health care delivery system, contact with these providers represents a crucial entry point into the formal mental health care system.In fact, according to epidemiologic data from the National Comorbidity Survey, approximately 25 percent of people first turned to religious providers for help with their mental or emotional problems.
Larson’s study confirmed that findings of previous studies concerning the association between mental health and religious beliefs, and found strong support for the hypothesis that religious attendance, “irrespective of frequency” is positively related to the use of mental health services among individuals with serious distress (Larson 2006).In the April 12, 2006 issue of the Wisconsin State Journal, attorney Todd Winstrom, a former correctional mental health clinician currently specializing in the needs of inmates with mental illness for Disability Rights Wisconsin, reports that the Department of Corrections does not provide adequate treatment for the more than 5,000 inmates with mental illness incarcerated in Wisconsin’s prisons.According to Winstrom, mental health staffing in the state’s prisons falls far below the standards set by national accrediting bodies and professional organizations, such as the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Association of Correctional Psychologists.Winstrom claims that to provide minimally adequate treatment to inmates with mental illness would require increasing the mental health staff by adding 50 full-time psychologists (a 55 percent increase), and 17 full-time psychiatrists (a 155 percent increase), and at least 101 full-time certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses. Without these increases, an inmate with mental illness is twice as likely to be locked in segregation as an inmate without mental illness, which is highly dangerous for inmates who have a mental illness or are suicidal.Studies by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care have found that segregation is contraindicated for inmates with serious mental illness since the conditions make their illnesses worse, resulting in a prison suicide rate twice the national average. Moreover, inmates with serious mental illness upon release from prison are less able to function than when they entered, and are more likely to re-offend and return to prison.
Therefore, it is crucial that the DOC take into consideration the immediate need for increased mental health staff in its prisons.According to a study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Heath and the Children’s Health Fund, published April 18, 2006 by Business Wire, families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are suffering from numerous medical and mental problems, yet are receiving little or no treatment. The analysis recommended immediate Congressional action to respond to the crisis. The study identified mental health as a significant issue for both parents and children, due to the fact that they have lost stability, income, and security. Moreover, the safety nets designed to protect the welfare of these families were found to have major gaps.According to Dr.
Irwin Redlener, president of the Children’s Health Fund, the crisis has marked an unprecedented threat to the well-being of the children in the Gulf. A survey of some 12,000 households living in FEMA-subsidized community housing in Louisiana found that more than one-third of the children have at least one diagnosed chronic medical condition and are more likely to suffer from behavioral or conduct problems, developmental delay, and learning disabilities. Approximately half of the parents reported that at least one of their children had emotional or behavioral difficulties that were not present before the hurricane.Moreover, more than half of the women caregivers showed evidence of clinically-diagnosed psychiatric problems, such as depression or anxiety disorders. A parent’s untreated depression increases the risk of mental health problems for the children who are already psychologically vulnerable. Failing to provide stable health and mental health care will likely have long-term consequences.
The study recommended a review of disaster preparedness planning to reconstitute medical and mental health systems. Bibliography : Larson, Sharon L. (2006 April 01).Religious involvement and the use of mental health care. Health Services Research. accessed April 19 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Windstrom, Todd. (2006 April 12). Prison Mental Health Crisis Must be Fixed. Wisconsin State Journal. accessed April 19 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.
Youngest Hurricane Victims Facing a Second Crisis – Little or No Health Care; Chronic Illness, Mental Health Problems Go Unchecked in FEMA’s Temporary Housing in Louisiana, With Children Among the Most Vulnerable. (2006 April 18). Business Wire. accessed April 19 2006 from HighBeam Research Library.