Alaskans with mental illness seek services from a diverse set of providers. These providers include members of two service constellations which overlap to some extent-the public system and the private system. Collecting and collating the data required to present a coherent picture of services sought, provided, and needed involves piecing together data from diverse sources, as well as figuring out how to fill in gaping holes in the information universe.
Estimating the number of Alaskans served during FY 1997 requires data from several sources. Some service providers and agencies do maintain data and supplied that. Others, while collecting data, have never aggregated it in a form suitable for our purposes. Still others simply do not collect data nor maintain databases useful for system-wide analysis.
The data we present for FY 97 has limitations over preceding years' data, due to the following:
· The transition from the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (DMHDD) management information system (MIS) to the ARORA MIS experienced delays that have resulted in an incomplete and unusable FY 1997 data set.
· DMHDD grantees were reluctant to provide client identifying information that they felt would compromise confidentiality. The Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities believes reporting incorporates adequate safeguards.
As a consequence, we are unable to present details of service delivery. Some important pieces remain missing and some important relationships only vaguely traceable. A prime reason for these tenuous links is that the management information system cannot reliably unduplicate client counts across many discrete databases. Nor can information be extracted about service, either intensity or outcome, from most of the data available.