Texas Scores Poorly in Mental Health Services While Executing Many with Mental Illness

A recent study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has revealed that Texas is almost last among states in spending on mental health services and performs poorly in other mental health areas. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas ranked 47th in the nation in per-capita spending on mental health services, and received a grade of "D" for information access and a grade of "C" overall.

Robin Peyson, NAMI-Texas executive director, observed that one of the main obstacles faced by the mentally ill is a false perception that they are more likely to be violent. She notes that violence is not the norm for those with mental illness and, in fact, the article notes that the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence than to become violent themselves. When those with mental illness do commit violent acts, Peyson said that it is usually because they have not received the necessary treatment or have become addicted to drugs or alcohol.  According to NAMI, there are more than 50 million adults in the U.S. who suffer from some form of mental illness, most of which are treatable.

(Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 15, 2007). See Mental Illness.

Texas leads the country in executions and has executed many inmates with serious mental illness including Larry Robison, James Colburn, Betty Lou Beets, and Kelsey Patterson.  Texas sought the death penalty against Andrea Yates, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity at her second trial. Texas is currently seeking to execute Scott Panetti, who was hospitalized over a dozen times for mental illness prior to his crime, and who defended himself in a cowboy suit.  His case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.