The Big Picture

Table 2

Currently over 40,000 Alaskans experience a mental illness, a significant portion of the state's population. Numbers are expected to increase at a pace equaling and perhaps exceeding that of the larger population. The total should approach 50,000 by 2010. How many receive services of some type? We estimate about half or slightly more receive some state funded service. Table 2 displays the numbers of mentally ill Alaskans served by state and other agencies or funded by sources for which we were able to obtain data. We do not total these numbers, because we cannot yet unduplicate client counts across discrete databases, the periods represented are not consistent, and because our information remains incomplete.

Looking at the broader picture, the data in this chapter suggests a fundamental characteristic of the state mental health system:

Perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 mentally ill Alaskans were not served in 1997 by any state program. Some likely were served by other systems, but the vast majority likely received no services.