Louisville Urban League reacts to federal mental health investigation – WAVE 3

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – A new federal investigation wants to know if adults with serious mental illness are unnecessarily being institutionalized in psychiatric hospitals across Kentucky and Louisville specifically.
“For far too long we have stigmatized it, criminalized it, we have done everything but treat it,” Lyndon Pryor, chief engagement officer for the Louisville Urban League said.
The Department of Justice is concerned that people with mental illnesses are being segregated and put at risk for more encounters with law enforcement.
The new federal investigation was a bit of a surprise for Pryor.
“I don’t know that I’ve personally been aware of them investigating issues like this at the federal level,” Pryor said. “The issue itself and what they are uncovering is not terribly surprising.”
In the investigation, the DOJ believes that people with serious mental illness are not getting community-based mental health services.
Pryor said while there are not enough of these services, they do exist.
The issue is more about getting past barriers so that people with mental health issues get the help they need, instead of being checked in to facilities.
One of those barriers is that many places just can’t take insurance.
“What we have found is that the process to be able to take those insurances is very, very arduous, very, very difficult,” Pryor said. “So when you have small businesses, small companies, they may not have all of the knowledge or technical assistance or awareness to be able to go through the process to be able to accept insurance.”
For people wondering how this mental health crisis affects them, he said everyone is paying for it, one way or another.
“It’s damaging our economy, damaging communities, tearing people’s lives up,” Pryor said. “We have to begin to treat people with the dignity and humanity that they deserve.”
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