Cate Graziani, our mental health campaigns coordinator, will be completing a Fulbright fellowship in Portugal from September 2016 to May 2017. Though we will miss her over the next eight months, we are excited to see what she uncovers! Here is a brief description of her project:
Portugal offers an excellent case study now that more than ten years have passed since the country decriminalized the possession and use of drugs and shifted to a public health approach to drug use and treatment. Initial outcomes reveal positive change is occurring: more people are engaged in treatment, fewer are incarcerated, and the country has seen declines in drug use, overdose deaths and nonviolent crime. Such promising findings indicate that an in-depth study of the Portuguese system can offer unique and timely options for the United States.
While Portugal’s drug policy reform has attracted much attention, few analyses have been conducted to understand the relationships between drug policy and incarceration of individuals with mental health disorders. Her project will analyze how Portugal’s decriminalization policies have impacted individuals with mental health disorders; what role the public health system plays with respect to mental health; and how lessons learned from Portugal’s model can improve the current situation in the United States.
Good luck, Cate! We will miss you!