A Safety Net in Peril

October  15, 2013

     A first-of-its-kind study shows programs to help people with mental illness in the Quad Cities are in danger unless something is done soon. "A Safety Net in Peril" is the name of the study by the Vera French and Robert Young Community Mental Health Centers, Genesis and Trinity health systems, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

     Jeff Lockwood, board president for the Vera French Community Health Center in Davenport, says 10 per cent of children and 25 per cent of adults suffer from some sort of mental illness, but only half the kids and one-third of the adults will seek treatment.

     "Mental health is treatable. It's been proven that people who receive treatment have a significant reduction in their stresses and mental illnesses, and improve their quality of life."

     And the life expectancy for people with mental illness is 25 years less than for the average person.

     Collen Rafferty, board president for the Robert Young Center in Rock Island, says with state and federal funding cuts, it's vital that we do something to support and fund the various local agencies and programs.

     "Unfortunately no one in this room is going to escape mental illness, either personally or through a family member, a co-worker, or a friend. So for the sickest and poorest too, the situation really is critical."

      Despite having similar goals, she says this is the first time these agencies have worked together. Lockwood and Rafferty say it's vital for local residents to read the report, support agencies with time and money that help people with mental illness, and urge members of state legislatures and Congress to make these programs a top priority.