Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, and Homelessness are commingled and require more than a simple solution; it requires focusing on all three simultaneously.
Five-Point List To Address Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Homelessness
- Increase funding for mental health and addiction services: One of the main barriers to getting treatment for mental health and addiction issues is the lack of availability of services.
- Implement early intervention programs: Identifying and treating mental health and addiction issues early on can prevent them from worsening and potentially leading to homelessness.
- Provide support for those experiencing homelessness: For those who are already homeless due to mental health and addiction issues, providing support such as temporary housing, access to mental health and addiction care, and job training can help them get back on their feet.
- Address social determinants of health: Mental health and addiction are not just individual issues – they are also affected by societal factors such as poverty, discrimination, and access to education and healthcare. Addressing these underlying issues can help prevent mental health, addiction problems, and homelessness.
- Reform the criminal justice system and end the endless drug war: People with mental health and addiction issues are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. Instead of jailing them, providing treatment and support can be a more effective solution.
Clif Marsiglio is a trained mental health clinician with an M.S. in Community Psychology. Community Psychology is the science of addressing mental illness as a societal issue first and a personal issue second. As a candidate, he is uniquely qualified to identify solutions in this area.
Science shows that addiction is a medical condition, not of moral condition. And it costs Indiana $4 billion a year in lost productivity, medical procedures, and imprisonment. From a purely fiscal perspective, treatment costs about $5000 per person, while imprisonment in Indiana is about $30,000 a year. The same argument can be said for mental health alone: the prison system is the largest mental health provider in the U.S. At one point, we had 800,000 beds in the U.S. for mental health care — today, we have less than 50,000. We know 25% of all prisoners in Indiana require mental health counseling.
Looking at the homelessness issue, we know that most have either a mental health condition or a substance abuse issue. The unhomed are disproportionately a part of the revolving door of the prison system.
We can break this cycle here in our city. Our city is responsible for paying for the housing of prisoners in local jails and our state prisons. We cannot afford to continue these failed and fiscally unsound practices.
Diversity, Equity, and Justice Statement:
Black and Brown people are far more likely to complete addiction treatment solely due to socioeconomic reasons. As a city, we can do better. Black people make up 13% of the population of the U.S. yet represent 30% of the homeless population. This is due mainly to socioeconomic disparities, lack of housing due to redlining, racial discrimination within housing, and incarceration. Blacks are 6 times more likely to be convicted for the same crime of addiction than whites, and studies show that while 13% of Blacks admit to using illegal drugs, they have about 40% of all convictions. Conversely, three times as many whites admit to past illicit drug use. In contrast, white people make up 60% of the population, and twice as many have admitted to past illegal drug usage; they make up only 20% of the prison population.
Access to mental health treatment is very much the same — Black and Brown people have far less access to mental health care due to socioeconomic and other issues, such as finding counselors that can understand uniquely race-related problems because of societal issues. Martin University is Indiana’s only university that has a primary focus on Black education and focuses on multicultural approaches to mental health. Simply being a graduate of the Community Psychology program at Martin University here in Indianapolis does not mean Clif Marsiglio has the answers to this — however, a much stronger partnership with the university and its programs should be approached as a priority. As a former faculty member, Clif Marsiglio would also prioritize this with his connections to his alum matter.
DRAFT 2.5 — January 7, 2023