Mental illness is an often maligned and misunderstood condition. In many cases the issues that people have can be treated successfully with proper diagnosis and care. Louisiana appears to be failing our citizens who suffer with this condition. That is a shame because Louisiana is near the top of the list when it comes to cases of mental illness.

The stigma associated with mental illness often comes in the form of news reports. Stories of mass shootings or other acts of carnage are often attributed to someone who is suffering from a mental illness. Not all mental issues compel those who are suffering to pick up a gun and harm others.

It's something that 1 in 4 individuals are dealing with and when you have the access you need to treat a person with a mental health disorder, they can function just as fine as anyone else.

That's according to Brittany Howard, Director of Mental Health America of Louisiana. Brittany's comments were reported in a story from the Louisiana Radio Network.

Governor-elect Edwards has proposed expanding medicaid coverage in hopes providing care to people who may not be able to get it any other way. Says Howard,

We believe that this will increase access to health care to people who are indigent and do not have access to care.

She went on to say that in addition to providing care for those who are suffering there needs to be better education and understanding of the malady. Howard suggested that many members of our own legislature don't have a complete understanding of the mental health issue and just how important proper care and treatment is to allowing many of those who suffer from this malady a chance at a normal and productive life.

Currently Louisiana ranks 47th in the nation for instances of mental illness and access to care according to the Mental Health Association. Only Washington, Nevada, Mississippi, and Arizona rank lower.