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Disarray in mental health programs

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WASHINGTON, Jul 23, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Treatment and support programs for the mentally ill are in woeful disarray across the United States, according to a presidential commission.

The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health is the first presidential commission in a generation to evaluate services for people with schizophrenia, depression and other mental disorders.

It found agencies are providing only fragmentary help to patients and allowing many to slip through the cracks.

"We have an unintended conspiracy to keep people disabled," Mike Hogan, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and chairman of the panel, told the Washington Post.

A "hodgepodge" of services makes it difficult for patients to get help, he said. With the focus on acute care, many patients lack preventive services to avoid crises.

"Many with mental illness make a rational decision to stay on Social Security disability because if they go to work they lose their Medicaid," Hogan said.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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