More mentally ill being left out

By Matt Porter

May 23, 2014 Updated May 23, 2014 at 7:07 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) With cuts in mental health services, Broome County Correctional Facility Administrator Mark Smolinsky said the jail has become a warehouse for some of the regions severely mentally ill.

"The correctional facility has become and is currently the largest mental health care provider in Broome County," Smolinsky said.

He said 40 percent of the population have some form of mental illness.

"Everybody that has either failed in community programs or have gone untreated in the community," Smolinsky said, "They end up in the correctional facility."

And if not in jail, many of the mentally ill can also find themselves homeless, or worse, dead.

Ninety percent of people who commit suicide in the United States are mentally ill according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Rebecca Rathmell works for the Rescue Mission in Broome County which works to provide housing and aid to the homeless.

"It really is up to us to reach out to them and figure out what we can do in an outreach sense to reach out to them," Rathmell said.

Lynne Esquivel, program manager for Broome County Mental health, said the biggest problem is connecting people who need help with help.

"Transportation, too busy, not realizing that there are services out there, probably thinking they can't afford something as well that they don't get services," Esquivel said.

She said when people do receive treatment, the chance of recovery is far greater.

"When they realize what's out there, the community of supports, I think they have a better success rate," Esquivel said.

But with closures or downsizing of psychological facilities and the shortage in mental health workers, the chances of finding support is growing more difficult.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.