Georgia is heading “in the right direction’’ in its emphasis on patients’ recovery from mental illness, Gov. Nathan Deal told a crowd of consumers and advocates on the state Capitol steps Tuesday.
“I believe we have a better day coming,’’ Deal said in his remarks for Mental Health Day at the Capitol.
The state is building up housing and employment services for people with mental illness, the governor added.
Those services are part of the agreement the state struck with the U.S. Justice Department in 2010 to revamp its mental health system.
Georgia agreed to establish community services for about 9,000 people with mental illness, and to create community support and crisis intervention teams to help people with developmental disabilities and mental illness avoid hospitalization.
Georgia also pledged to end all admissions of people with developmental disabilities to the state psychiatric hospitals. It also promised that patients with developmental disabilities already in those hospitals would be moved to more appropriate settings by July 2015.
The ‘‘recovery movement’’ in mental health has demonstrated that people with mental illness can live a healthy, meaningful life.
Commissioner Frank Berry of the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities “is moving our system of care from hospital-based to home- and community-based,’’ Deal said, calling this a cost-efficient strategy.
Deal also said Tuesday that the stigma surrounding mental illness acts as a barrier to growth and recovery.
Consumer advocates praised Deal’s remarks. “It was very positive, recovery-oriented, and full of hope,’’ said Sherry Jenkins Tucker of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network.
Ellyn Jeager of Mental Health America of Georgia said the public must be educated about mental illness so that people who suffer from it are not stigmatized. Having a mental illness doesn’t mean an individual is violent, she said.
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