Nursing home placement is an important option for those younger adults with mental illness who need higher levels of care. But thousands of those people languish in such homes unnecessarily. They could live better, more-self sufficient lives on their own, if given the option.
Illinois houses more consumers/survivors of mental health services under age 65 in nursing homes than any other state — about 15,000 people whose primary diagnosis is a mental illness. This remedy is costly, and often warehouses people without providing proper treatment. The state instead should provide more cost-effective community-based mental health services that would let more people move out of nursing homes. Such alternatives have been successful, but the funding is inadequate.
Illinois must raise the $30-per-month stipend for nursing home residents, which is not enough to let people pay for bus fares, work clothes or the other things they need to transition to independence.