Medical officials work to make mental healthcare a main priority

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Organizations on both sides of the river conjoined to fight for better mental healthcare.

Emergency rooms, jails, and homeless shelters are flooded everyday with those who struggle with a mental illness. But as a nation, is there more than can be done?

Dr. David Deopere is the President of the Robert Young Center for Mental Health, and believes we are cheating the mentally ill.

"The fact of the matter is that the state and national government is disenfranchising from the support for seriously mentally ill," said Dr. Deopere.

Organizations like the Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health and the Vera French Community Health Center in Iowa came together.

Nearly 100 people joined one another Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at the Community Health Care Auditorium in Rock Island. Doctors, nurses, and members of the community discussed what needs to be done to put mental healthcare back on the radar.

Chris McCormick Pries is the clinical director at the Vera French Community Health Center. She is doing all she can to get the word out.

"City, local, state legislators need to have on their agenda, the care of the mentally ill," she continued, "we would like to see it on their top 5 priorities."

In 1963, President Kennedy signed into law the Community Mental Health Center Act. This law removed thousands of mentally ill people, and put them in the community. In addition, federal funding was allocated to mental health organizations.

That is not the case today. Most of the responsibility for funding organizations that help the mentally ill is funded by the states.

"Over the years, the federal mandate has been lost, the states have become responsible for care", she continued, "the competition for those dollars has increased dramatically," said Pries.

The meeting today was to make people aware of the issue, and in hopes of getting the word out to state representatives.

Mental health advocates like Dr. Deopere are optimistic.

"We are all in this together," he said. "That already gives me hope, doesn't it give you hope?"