An alarming report on the dire state of our nation’s mental health care industry.
Citing the multibillion-dollar budget cuts after the 2008 recession, increasingly overloaded community clinics, the dangers of drug-based outpatient Medicaid programs, and the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Washington Monthly contributing editor Levine presents a foreboding look at the status of contemporary mental health care in the United States. The author delivers the statistics in a harrowing introductory chapter that spotlights the dangers lurking in the “low quality and sometimes deadly care” that is becoming the standard for those seeking treatment. Levine reinforces his pleas for reform with profiles and true stories of everyone from young children to military vets with PTSD to nursing home communities, all left at the mercy of mental illness by a health care system rampant with weak regulatory oversight, maltreatment, and reckless off-label drug prescriptions. With scores of victims remaining oversedated and often neglected by an inferior, “out-of-control, profit-driven” network, the decades of appeals for reform Levine cites duly reflect just how “little has fundamentally changed in how we treat people with serious mental illness.” The author also expertly probes the Veterans Administration’s “secret history” of deadly wait times and scandalous incompetence, the dangerous marketing schemes surrounding the bipolar medication Seroquel, and the Los Angeles County women’s jail, where 20 percent of inmates suffer from some form of “serious” mental illness. Counterbalancing his own dystopian view, Levine introduces us to the advocates hard at work improving and enhancing the industry and thereby restoring the lives of those affected by its shortcomings. Amid a surfeit of drug company scandals, lawsuits, and blatant wrongdoings, Levine’s compelling exposée brings the contemporary state of mental health care into stark focus. But it also fairly offers redemption and hope in the form of modern-day heroes armed with proactive recovery programs and alternative therapies.
An urgent, balanced, eye-opening plea for mental health care reform.