Those diagnosed with mental illnesses are oftentimes placed in nursing homes so that they may be closely watched and supervised. However, mentally ill patients will thrive better if they are just given extra help finding and keeping an apartment while continung to take their medications. A St. Louis Today editorial is reporting that Illinois nursing homes currently are housing 4.500 people with serious mental illness. Illinois has the most mentally ill patients living in nursing homes. Nationally, the number of mentally ill nursing homes patients has jumped by 41 percent in 8 years.
Illinois is trying to do something to solve this problem. Officials signed a consent decree that requires them to assess all mentally ill nursing home residents. They would then move those mentally ill patients to group homes and apartments if they would be better placed there. It should also be noted that it is less expensive to treat people with mental illness as outpatients in health centers. States say that they lack money to expand these community mental health programs and instead confine the patients. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that mentally ill patients should receive treatment in the “least restrictive environment.” This occurred when two patients wanted to get care at the community psychiatric center instead of a state psychiatric hospital. The Illinois agreement echoes this same sentiment. The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti applaud the efforts of the Illinois legislator to rectify this problem. To learn more about the mentally ill in nursing homes, please click the link.