The Cost of Troubled Minds
KVUE News, ABC 24
In KVUE’s exemplary expose of Texas’ critically inadequate care for its mentally ill, reporter Andy Pierrotti bolsters statistical documentation with specific case studies to powerful effect. His larger finding is that the state’s budget cuts, outdated facilities and a shortage of mental health care professionals ultimately cost taxpayers millions of dollars. What makes the charge resonate and infuriate is examples such as that of a schizophrenic woman who, with no hospital or program to go into, has in recent years spent 1,344 days in jail and gone to an ER 326 times at a cost of more than $850,000. And she’s just one of more than 600,000 Texans with some form of mental illness and no insurance. The cost is not just in dollars, either, but in damage to an already vulnerable population. One mentally ill man was found to have spent 250 days in jail waiting for a bed in a psychiatric hospital. A week after Pierrotti’s report aired as a Sunday afternoon news special, a state report confirmed its findings and recommended an overhaul of the agency responsible for treating the mentally ill. For clearly explaining the price Texas is paying for shortchanging its mentally ill residents, The Cost of Troubled Minds receives a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Investigative Reporter: Andy Pierrotti. Photojournalist and Segment Editor: Derek Rasor. Photojournalist: Matt Olsen. News Director: Frank Volpicella. Asst. News Director: Michelle Chism.