Health Care System Fails Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED)

The health care system has failed to address the needs of persons with serious mental illnesses (SMI) and serious emotional disturbances (SED). 4% percentage of the adult population, age 18 and over, living with SMI. 1 in 4 individuals with SMI live below the poverty line. 25x the suicide rate for individuals with mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder is 25 times higher than among the general population. 1 in 10 youths in SAMHSA's CMHI program had attempted suicide prior to receiving services. 2 million approximate number of persons with SMI admitted annually to US jails. Only about 1 in 3 people with mental illness in jails or prisons is currently receiving any treatment. 7% to 12% of youth under age 18 who have SED.

The Way Forward: Federal Action for a System That Works for All People Living With SMI and SED and Their Families and Caregivers

The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) has released a report detailing a plan for helping adults with serious mental illness (SMI) and children and youth with serious emotional disturbances (SED). The report includes current needs of individuals with these issues, advances in clinical care, as well as extensive recommendations for improving the way we address these challenges. (Quoting NAMI California email dated January 18, 2018)

Press Conference

Members of the ISMICC discussed the recommendations in their first Report to Congress during a press conference on Thursday, December 14, 2017. The findings and recommendations in the report have the potential to spur federal action to revolutionize behavioral health care by increasing access, quality, and affordability of care. (Quoting
Full Report
Executive Summary


10 responses to “Health Care System Fails Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED)”

  1. Without a doubt, resources are particularly scarce in small towns and rural areas. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance ( offers online support groups. Online therapy is an option, too. I wish you the best in finding the support you need.

  2. Sarah Peter Avatar
    Sarah Peter

    As a MMD patient, I am very frustrated with availability and cost of services. I had GeneSight testing done to find the best medication to work for my body, but with the cost of testing, cost of medicine monthly, and cost of psychiatry check-ups I cannot afford to go to counseling. I am in a small town with only 2 counselors both of which were not good fits for me. In order to see a different therapist, i will have to drive at least an hour each way for sessions. With the cost of the sessions themselves and cost for gas each trip it just is not possible. Also with being in a small town there are no support groups anywhere close to join for some help there either. It is very frustrating knowing I need more help but it is soooo expensive trying to get it and the stigma around mental illness is still so strong that more communities around here do not want to invest in all the help we could use.

  3. You started by reading and commenting on this post. If you are in the US, you can connect to non-profits like or Thanks!

  4. Wow, this is so sad and eye opening. My family has been so great impacted by serious mental illness, and it breaks my heart to see these dismal stats. I want to do more and don’t even know where to start!

  5. Thanks for the nomination. I no longer accept awards. Too much work involved, quite frankly.

  6. Hi there! I’m just stopping in to let you know that I have nominated you for the Liebster Award 2018. To accept this nomination go here:
    There are a couple things you need to do should you decide to accept this nomination, good luck 🙂

  7. Our infant mortality rates are abysmal compared to other wealthy developed countries.

  8. When I see things like this I want to move to Canada or the UK for socialized medicine!!! (Although I might be idealizing things in each country—I could very well be wrong about this, but to my knowledge, their health care systems are superior to ours. One thing I do know for certain is that the UK has a better maternal mental health care system than ours – they have many more mother & baby units, they have more effective social awareness campaigns, etc.

  9. Not exactly a positive report, especially given our current political climate and lack of support for mental health services and mental health research.

  10. Oh, this is terrible. Hopefully lawmakers will respond appropriately!

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