Mental Health: Fixing A Broken System In Arizona

Ryan For Arizona
Nov 25 · 10 min read
Ryan For Arizona
Ryan For Arizona

Mental health is vital to our very existence. 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness (43.8 million in a given year). Arizona is plagued by this ongoing crisis with 59,000 individuals suffering from schizophrenia and 118,000 with severe bipolar disorder. Not to mention the thousands of Veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is not just an epidemic, it is a crisis of our current system.

Here are some of the facts related to the mental health crisis:

Mental Health
Mental Health

Data Insights

A survey conducted on two groups in the State of Arizona discovered insights about mental health and the impact on our society. The same ten survey questions were asked of two groups of people:

Group 1: Lean liberal, live in Arizona

Group 2: Everyone, regardless of political ideology, live in Arizona.

Demographics

Arizona population demographics (census.gov):

Arizona

Population | Male — 50% | Female — 50%

Age | 18 to 25 — 9% | 26 to 35 — 14% | 36 to 45 — 12% | 46 to 55 — 11% | 55+ — 29%

Ethnicity | White/Non-Hispanic — 70% | Latino/Hispanic — 31% | Black/African American — 5% | Asian — 3.45% | American Indian — 1% | Other — 4%

Annual Income | Up to $25,000 — 18% | $25,000 to $50,000 — 21% | $50,000 to $100,000 — 30% | Above $100,000 — 31%

Survey Respondents

Respondent demographics:

Population | Male — 36% | Female — 64%

Age | 18 to 25 — 8% | 26 to 35 — 11% | 36 to 45 — 14% | 46 to 55 — 11% | 55+ — 20%

Ethnicity | White/Non-Hispanic — 76% | Latino/Hispanic — 6% | Black/African American — 4% | Asian — 7% | American Indian — 4% | Other — 2%

Annual Income | Up to $25,000 — 19% | $25,000 to $50,000 — 37% | $50,000 to $100,000 — 25% | Above $100,000 — 17%

Respondent demographics provide a reasonable sample when compared to the Arizona population.

The questions were ranked on a scale of 1–5:

1 = Strongly Disagree | 2 = Disagree | 3 = Neutral | 4 = Agree | 5 = Strongly Agree

Respondents from both surveys were nearly identical which indicates a common perspective on mental health. Mostly neutral is considered a middle point for responses which indicates half agree and half disagree.

Question Analysis

Respondents agree to know the difference between mental health and mental illness (Mean=4.07).

Respondents were neutral with having a need for mental health services (Mean=3.54), knowing where to obtain such services (Mean=3.38) and being comfortable discussing it with others (Mean=3.50).

Respondents agree mental health services are too expensive (Mean=4.06), mental health policy is an issue in our state (Mean=4.01), that the state should provide mental health services to everyone, regardless of ability to pay (Mean=4.11) and that background checks to purchase a firearm should include mental health screening (Mean=4.19).

Respondents disagree that religion contributes to mental health issues (Mean=2.73) or that current elected officials are doing enough to address mental health policy in Arizona (Mean=2.18).

Background checks to purchase a firearm received the highest level of agreement. Current elected officials are doing enough to address mental health policy received the highest level of disagreement.

To offer respondents a chance to provide additional comments, one open ended question was asked:

Do you have any other thoughts, comments, or insights you want to provide related to mental health or mental health policy?

The answers offered provide additional insights into the thoughts of Arizona residents in relation to mental health policy. The responses are edited for minor grammatical errors and word clarity.

Group 1

It seems that psychs and Nurse Practitioners are always leaving their jobs so it’s difficult to keep seeing the same person when you need psych meds.

Mental illness is at the root of almost all of our social issues, so needs to be a higher priority. And not just medication, but true therapy to work through issues.

They need to have more services that are easier to get.

Everyone that suffers from mental health should not be treated any different than those without. Some have mild cases compared to others. Not everyone with an illness are they the same. Every cases is different and some is only due to stress or your surroundings. So to actually screen for mental health on buying a fire arm would restrict a person dealing with to much stress or overloaded with home circumstances than a person with a real server disorder. So to do that would discredit some to most people that should be able to buy a fire arm not capable due to talking to someone to work out some minor issues.

I think that people who have not had any mental illnesses or any mental health issue do not understand what it is like and that is a very serious issue. Unfortunately, I’ve been needing to see a specialist but I cannot afford it and I am sure that a lot of people are in the same situation. It is sad that we have this problem. The State of Arizona should provide facilities that are free or at least affordable. They would prevent a lot of unfortunate events such as suicides.

Quality mental health services are expensive — even under insurance policies.

I don’t know a lot about it, but I believe that it is important.

Mental health is as important as physical health and access to care should be available to people o all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. The shortage of psychologists and counselors in our schools needs to be remedied and nobody should have a gun who hasn’t passed a mental health screening.

I think Arizona needs many clinics that offer mental health services and make it affordable. We have a huge problem with this issue because it’s so expensive for people with no health insurance and even with health insurance it’s not always offered. The Vets don’t even have enough resources without months of waiting.

I’m more concerned about mental health screening being abused and stigmatized, than with the potential benefits of such screening being required of gun purchasers.

Health mental or otherwise is an important component of a properly running society. Without proper mental health services we are missing a huge puzzle piece to the overall health of the populace thus making us less efficient and effective as citizens.

In Sierra Vista on Humana medicare I have zero (0) options for a Mental Health doctor. ZERO I go to a counselor instead, only thing available to me If I was on medicaid I would have options but everybody here only accept medicaid and not medicare. So I’m f*****.

Mental health has a negative stigma attached to it, which is hard to overcome…and that’s everywhere, not just Arizona specifically. From what I understand, there’s a lot more resources for mental health in other states than in Arizona. I don’t know much about that in detail, so I can’t speak to it specifically. That being said, many people in Arizona, myself included, could greatly benefit from an increase in mental health resources.

Not enough people really understand mental health, and more should be done to bring awareness of how it effects people.

I think that someone’s mental health affects every aspect of their lives, the people who are around them, and their ability to contribute to society. I think that there is still a judgement of people with any mental condition that is difficult to shake off.

I don’t know much about the mental health policies of the state. I feel like I know of some local resources, but I’ve never sought them out. I think anyone should have access to counseling if needed.

we need more mental health advocates and more money spent on mental health. many of our homeless are suffering from mental health issues and we are not caring for them. just because you have mental health issues doesn’t mean you have to live on the streets. this is a horrible issue that needs to be addressed.

Mental health should have the same treatment and attitude as cancer or any other illness. It’s stigma should be removed and care should be given to any who need it, regardless of cost or the persons socio/economic status.

Group 2

Just thought this state lacks support on a political basis on mental issues and does not do enough in regards to mental health care.

Other than it’s grossly underfunded in both AZ and the rest of the country? No, not really — but we should be pumping more money into health care as a whole, and this includes mental health services.

Services are really poor in Arizona for people with depression or have an anxiety disorder. We live in an area where there are very few mental health providers, and insurance limits even those few.

A lot of homeless are suffering from mental illness and are not getting the treatment they deserve because they cannot afford it.

Should be totally free and available to all. Raise taxes if you must, am happy to pay for it.

Not at this time except that I’m glad that this issue is being addressed.

I wanted to kill myself recently but had the insight not to do it. I couldn’t do it to my mom and my cats. I took myself to the emergency room. After treatment there I was transferred to Quail Run Behavioral Health Center. I needed what they had to teach me. It changed my life. The only downside is that I owe thousands of dollars to the health center now. That’s just added stress I don’t need because being on social security I just can’t afford it. I wish they would do mental health treatment on a sliding scale according to your income. It’s desperately needed.

More general education in regards mental health is needed to educate the population. People don’t understand.

Readily available help with mental health has to be increased. And attempt to normalize if you have to go.

Mental health is a medical condition on a state of mine.

Gun background checks should screen for mental illness, but not mental health. Otherwise, it may make some people hesitate to get therapy or counseling.

Mental health resources need to be easily accessible.

Mental health needs to be addressed in the US and medical attention should be provided to EVERYONE with needs, regardless of their ability to pay.

I am more aware of the mental health issue/issues in our country than I was a few years ago.

Mental health is a problem throughout the US, not just in Arizona. I am guessing this is about our firearms policy. I do not feel that we need to have mental exams prior to purchasing a firearm. If someone is not mentally healthy and really wants a gun, an exam is not going to stop him/her. They will just purchase illegally.

I haven’t had trouble accessing mental health support, the challenge has been to find good quality mental health support.

Regarding the items I just saw, the main thought that I have is that mental health screening probably should be included in firearms background checks, but only for serious mental illness, I don’t think everyone who ever sought psychiatric treatment should lose their 2nd Amendment rights, and I’m worried that might happen.

I often feel like mental health is something only the well off worry about.

It is a difficult balance between civil liberties and forced commitment to mental hospitals for those who are dangerous. I think that the pendulum has swung too far toward civil liberties and therefore produced too many homeless people who are incapable of caring for themselves in a civilized manner.

Mental health services are not readily available to everyone because some people don’t have any insurance or insurance that will cover a sufficient number of visits to mental health treatment providers. I wish the state would do a better job of ensuring everyone has access to treatment if needed. I especially think that the state needs to do a better job of making sure schools have properly trained mental health professionals and counselors available to students. Mental illness is also really prevalent in the homeless population and not enough is being done to help them, either.

Mental health issues have been spilling over other areas of life here in AZ. For example the price of going to a therapist has prevented people from seeking help, in the end they end up hurting others and committing crimes. Additionally, the fact that mental health services are not affordable has driven people to abuse drugs or alcohol or worse attempt suicide.

This states severely lacks funds and support in regards to mental healthcare. Many providers don’t even take insurance and it is a real struggle to quality mental healthcare.

They need to be readily available for students and should be free.

From the information obtained, it is clear Arizona must address these issues. More mentally ill people are in jail and prisons in Arizona than in treatment facilities. Criminalizing mental illness is not going to fix the systemic problems associated with it. Our criminal justice system is not a place to treat mental health issues. We can and must do better for the people of our State.

Policy Plan

We need bold action to address this crisis. Ryan has a five-point policy plan to addresses our broken mental health system here in Arizona.

  1. Provide incentives to urgent care facilities and hospitals so they have a mental health professional on staff at all times.

This five-point policy plan is bold, but necessary. Issues related to Mental health cost our state hundreds of millions, possibly billions annually to deal with. Instead of putting people in jail, prison or on the streets, let us get them the help they need and deserve by partnering with local organizations and ending this backwards, failed approach to dealing with mental health in Arizona.

Ryan A. Starzyk, State Senate Candidate

AZForward

AZForward is the official publication of Ryan For Arizona, State Senate Candidate, Legislative District 24. AZForward is dedicated to policy positions and proposals that will take Arizona Forward into the next generation of technology innovation and policy transformation.

Ryan For Arizona

Written by

Ryan A. Starzyk, Democratic Candidate For Arizona State Senate, Legislative District 24. Military Veteran, Community Leader, LGBTQ+ Member (he/him/his)

AZForward

AZForward

AZForward is the official publication of Ryan For Arizona, State Senate Candidate, Legislative District 24. AZForward is dedicated to policy positions and proposals that will take Arizona Forward into the next generation of technology innovation and policy transformation.

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