Investigation Uncovers Failures in Arizona’s Mental Health System

Aaron Wallace, 39, has been in Arizona's mental health system for 20 years. Shown here on May 25, 2021, Wallace sits outside a Tucson boarding house where he lived until June 2021. Photo by Alberto Mariani | AZCIR
In an investigation for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, grantee Amy Silverman revealed that despite a class-action lawsuit that led to decades of mental health care reform, Arizonans with chronic mental illness are not getting the help they need, thanks in part to a settlement agreement that removed most accountability and transparency measures from the system and softened the state’s obligations to one of its most vulnerable populations. The failures include inadequate and understaffed crisis management teams meant to treat people on their worst days and a “street, treat, repeat” process that doesn’t keep people in psychiatric hospitals long enough to recover. Claims of retaliation and isolation plague the state mental hospital for patients who file grievances, and some of the sickest people who find beds outside the system often live in unlicensed and unregulated boarding homes that were long considered a thing of the past. Investigation Uncovers Failures in Arizona’s Mental Health System – The Fund for Investigative Journalism