Many mental health advocates have cried foul, but their concern for people with mental illness misses a key point. Until now, the State allowed physicians to prescribe any psychotropic medication regardless of the cost. Taxpayers should appreciate that allowing a physician to prescribe every expensive psychotropic medication does not readily translate into helping those with a mental illness. The perfect drug does not always hit the bulls eye. Research has shown that for those with severe and persistent mental illness, recovery comes not solely by finding a well-tolerated, effective drug. Persons with mental illness must be part of a system of care designed to meet their needs for housing, employment and reintegration into the community.
With this in mind, the state should continue to prioritize a holistic and cost-effective approach to addressing mental illness that doesn't simply throw money towards pharmaceutical companies promising the next big thing in mental health treatment. However, without proper therapeutic care such as community support and physical healthcare, along with housing assistance to prevent homelessness and employment services to help those with mental illness find and keep a meaningful job, even the most expensive, innovative and trustworthy drugs will have less overall effect to prevent the negative outcomes of long-term mental illness.
-- Steve Weinstein, M.D., Chicago