The new health policy is about mental health of Illinois and the act is cited as ‘Mental Health First Aid Training Act’. It is proposed that Human Services Department shall be made responsible to establish and administer the training program to provide certified trainers to the residents of Illinois to assist them in countering crisis of mental disorder or alcohol / substance abuse. The Health Services Department along with other state agencies will provide financial grants to support training program for mental health of Illinois.
Cause of Public Health Issue
Mental health and alcohol abuse are considered as public health problems because their occurrence is common and the community is directly impacted due to these health issues. Mental health has been recognized as a growing concern and it has attained greater attention to be coped up by the coordination of state and federal agencies with the community and society. There is intense need to raise general awareness among masses to counter the issue of mental health and alcohol or substance abuse due to severity of the issues and such need and severity lead to develop mental health and alcohol abuse as public health problems (Public Health Service, 2006).
Incidence and Prevalence Rate
Mental illness has been so prevalent in Illinois that 421,000 adults out of 12.9 million residents suffer from serious mental health problems while 142,000 children are also living with severe mental illness. Severe and untreated or undertreated mental illness results in suicide, More than 1000 residents of Illinois died by suicide in 2006 while at national level one suicide is committed every 15.8 minutes. Suicide has become a leading cause of death among people of 15 to 24 years of age. Another alarming statistics reveals that 43% of the students of age 14 and above were dropped out of school due to mental health problems in 2006-07 (McIntosh, 2006).
Economic Cost of the Problem
Increased problems of mental health put additional financial pressure to the state and federal agencies as the spending over health needs to be enhanced to cope up the matter. Illinois had been spending 83 USD per capita on mental health in 2006 which makes up 1052.4 million USD while 71% of the total spending was based on services of community health services and 27% of the total spending was based on hospital care (NIMH, 2009).
Ethical issues also arise due to mental health problems which need to be sorted out within the frame of ethics. These ethical issues are related to carers, health professionals, decision makers (family as well as community) and researchers. According to general ethical guidelines of mental health, research must be based on facts and evidences while carers and health professionals must ensure the dignity, confidentiality and rights of the sufferers of mental health patients. Decision makers must also attempt to retain the respect of those who suffer from mental illness (Public Health Service, 2006).
There exists the issue of disparities in the provision of health services to sufferers of mental health and alcohol or substance abuse. The disparity is most common in multicultural communities where the African American, Latin American, Asian American, Alaskan, etc might not have the same rights and accessibility to the mental health services. However, attempts like Nami’s Summit of Multicultural Strategies have helped to curtail the ethnic and racial disparity in provision of health (Nami State Advocacy, 2010).
Current Policies to Counter the Problem
Currently the state of Illinois and Federal agencies hold health policies comprised of tools including epidemiology, surveillance, prevention research, education programs, system changes and policies to address mental health and mental illness. Public health surveillance enables the government to get detailed information about the disease and its impacts along with the impact of interventions while epidemiology is a tool of public health that helps to get insight about influence of mental illness or other abuse in population. Prevention research helps decision makers to research health problems in order to suggest best possible preventive solutions. The health policies also ensure the periodic evaluation of each program for enhancing mental health (Canfield et al. 2006).
Positive Impact of New Policy
It has been evident from various sources and statistics that mental illness and alcohol or substance abuse puts additional economic burden on state as well as community. The new policy through establishment and implementation of Illinois Mental Illness First Aid Training Program will be helpful in bringing a positive impact in community by reducing and managing the mental illness and substance abuse through developing certified trainers who will help in determining and managing the people who begin developing mental illness or alcohol abuse. Trainers will also help in raising general awareness about mental health in the community (NIMH, 2009).
Cost of Implementing New Policy
The proposed program will need high grant to implement it as the cost to train the trainers will be high. Also, the cost will be incurred to develop mental health centres and integration of mental health to primary health care. The issue will arise whether the state is able to bear this burden or not (McIntosh, 2006).
Legal Issues in Implementation of New Policy
The state has to pass an act by majority of members of general assembly which will form basis of devising new health policy. The new act has to comply by existing laws and o be confined within the scope of Health Services Department. The state also needs a well established legal framework that can help in attaining the set objectives regarding mental health and alcohol abuse (WHO, 2001).
Political Issues in Implementing New Policy
The political parties including members of assembly, ministers, policy makers and health department must form consensus over the issue of implementing new policy to manage mental illness and alcohol abuse so that the new policy is supported by law (Public Health Service, 2006).
Expected Outcome of New Health Policy
It is expected that the new health policy will lay a positive outcome as the society will have more trained certified professionals of mental health and alcohol abuse. The society will get more awareness about the public health problem and the policy will eventually result in curtailing the problem of mental disorder which will ease economic burden on the state in the long run.
Vote to Enact New Policy
I would vote to enact the new policy because this seems an honest effort to overcome the increasing mental health problem and alcohol abuse. The idea to invest in humans by developing them as certified trainers is quite marvellous which will leave a long lasting impact on the society.
U.S. Public Health Service, Report of the Surgeon General's Conference on Children's Mental Health: A National Action Agenda, (Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).
McIntosh, J.L. (for the American Association of Suicidology), U.S.A. Suicide 2006: Official Final Data, (Washington, DC: American Association of Suicidology, April 19, 2009), http://www.suicidology.org.