Mental illness and substance abuse

There has been a rapid increase of individuals diagnosed with a mental illness or dual diagnosed (both mental illness and substance abuse), but there are not enough community resources for these individuals to achieve wellness. The programs that are currently setup for these populations are too expensive, and lack in many therapeutic components utilized to help this population heal, so the mentally ill and dual diagnosed need to learn how to achieve wellness within themselves. These populations need to learn positive, healthy, coping skills and social skills from community based programs. Also, they need to have the opportunity to be involved in community based programs which provide them with the medications, and learn how to function in society on a healthy level.

SAMHSA defines the ten components needed in community based programs for both the mentally ill and dual diagnosed (SAMHSA, 2004 p.1). The ten components SAMSHA identifies that the mentally ill need from community based programs are self direction, individualized treatment plans, empowerment, holistic, non-linear, strengths based, peer support, respect, responsibility, and hope (SAMHSA, 2004 p.1). SAMHSA explains how it is both a transformation and recovery plan for the mentally ill and the dual diagnosed, which was devised to help these populations eventually obtain their pathway to wellness.

If there is a significant increase of help for the mentally ill, our general population will improve overall on a healthy level. They are unable to contribute to society if there are not enough programs for them to achieve wellness. This population is clearly not capable of helping themselves solely on their own. They need professionals in the field to guide them down the path to wellness. These populations are often unable to take care of their daily needs due to being homeless and unemployed. The mentally ill and dual diagnosed are unable to support themselves let alone their family because they are not taught the skills they need from community based programs.

They often need to be forced into community based programs. Once they are in the programs they will see their progress and they will more than likely want to continue on the path to wellness. There can be legal ramifications for the community based programs serving the court ordered clients, and the clients who voluntarily enter the community based program. However, this is why the community based programs will be properly insured in order to be protected. They will also be licensed by Department and Family Services (DCF), who will continue to monitor community based programs annually for the mentally ill and dual diagnosed. Clients need to be able to maintain their illness appropriately my taking their medications and not using alcohol and/or drugs in order to develop the proper skills and supports to continue to maintain long term recovery with their illness (Drake, Essock, Shaner, Kerry, 2001 p.1).

The criminal justice system here in Palm Beach County has seen an influx in the mentally ill and dual diagnosed population (Analytica, 2009 p.2). They have formulated a plan to increase community based programs for this population in Palm Beach County this past year. They are at a higher risk for crime due to the fact that the majority of them are not on medications and receiving therapy due to the unavailability of community based programs. Therefore, our overall crime rate in society will continue to increase if there are not more community based programs for the mentally ill and dual diagnosed. It will cost the government more monies in order to create more not-for-profit programs for the mentally ill and dual diagnosed. However, our taxpaying dollars are already supporting this population at high expenses. Having community based programs for these populations will significantly decrease the need for inpatient stays in psychiatric units, which will decrease our tax payer dollars.

Liimatta examines the need to understand the mentally ill and dual diagnosed. He understands that if there is not an increase in providing more services for the mentally ill that this population will continue to increase over time (Michael Liimatta 2009). He emphasizes that this population needs more case management services, and there needs to be more services offered from the local community mental health providers (Michael Liimatta 2009). Mental Health Professionals who are currently in the field need to devise task forces who will create community based programs for these populations in each county in our country. It is imperative that we do this for the mentally ill and dual diagnosed. In our country today there are many mentally ill and dual diagnosed who are suffering tremendously! This population has a tendency to "fall between the cracks." If we do not help these individuals heal their own inner pains they will not achieve wellness. Also, if we do not help these populations we will see an overall increase in crime rate, violence and chronic homelessness. If these populations have more community based programs then they will be given the chance to achieve wellness, and heal the inner pains within them. These emotional pains within them are keeping these populations from serving their life's purposes. Society as a whole will greatly benefit from the mentally ill and dual diagnosed achieving wellness. We will see a significant decrease in crime, violence, and homelessness. Families of the mentally ill and dual diagnosed will also have a sense of relief that finally their loved ones are getting the medical care, therapies and housing these populations deserve. I believe they need to all have the chance at living a healthy, functioning, and productive life.


  • Community Support Programs Branch - Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grant Program. (n.d.). mental illness, mental health information center. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from
  • National Consensus Statement on Mental Health Recovery. (n.d.). mental illness, mental health information center. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from
  • Analytica. (n.d.). Criminal Justice, Mental Health and. Palm Beach County. Retrieved February 4, 2010, from
  • Drake, Robert, Susan Essock, Andrew Shaner, and Kate Kerry. "Implementing Dual Diagnosis Services for Clients With Severe Mental Illness -- Drake et al. 52 (4): 469 -- Psychiatric Serv." Psychiatric Services. N.p., 2 Feb. 2010. Web. 2 Feb. 2010.
  • Liimatta, M. (n.d.). Helping the Homeless Who Suffer from Mental Illness - Part 2: Michael Liimatta's Urban Ministry Blog | Sermons, Podcasts, MP3s, Grants, Jobs, Books on Christian Social Justice. Sermons, Podcasts, MP3s, Grants, Jobs, Books on Christian Social Justice | . Retrieved February 4, 2010, from

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