The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Amid high demand, states cut mental health care funds

Gabrielle Giffords, Democratic nominee and gen...

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Below is an excerpt from an article I found in the Salt Lake Tribune.  It is a lengthy article, so I have only posted part of it here, but I recommend clicking over to read the article itself.

This is a real and dangerous problem facing our nation.  I know that budgets need to be balanced;  I understand that some things will become unfunded and other programs will get less and less.  We are in a recession and every man and woman today understands cutting back.

The problem that I see here is the knee jerk response to cut mental health because the care provided these people is not valued–even this population is not valued in our society.  But, what if the cuts were across the board for cancer patients, or dialysis patients?  Wouldn’t everyone get up in arms?  Wouldn’t there be a huge outcry?  I’m thinking so.

Sad state of affairs when the most vulnerable part of a society is no longer protected by the strong.  Mental illness is real and is not going to go away simply because the funds have been withdrawn.

Please click over and read this article, then come back and tell me your thoughts on this topic.

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In Arizona, 22-year-old Jared Loughner caught the attention of staff and administrators at his community college and was told he could not return until he had been evaluated by a mental health professional. There is no indication the man who is charged in the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and shot six others to death ever sought such services.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, whose adult son is mentally ill, took office in January 2009 as an advocate for mental health and persuaded lawmakers to restore $18 million in proposed midyear budget cuts to social programs, including behavioral health.

But two years later, tough times have led Brewer to call for dropping 280,000 people from Medicaid coverage, including an estimated 5,000 adults with serious mental illnesses. Over the past two years, Arizona cut counseling, case management and virtually all other services except medication for an estimated 14,000 mentally ill patients.

More than half the states surveyed by the state mental health association have cut staff at state mental health agencies and reduced funding for community mental health services. Of those, almost half closed state mental hospitals or wards. Nationwide, states closed 2,158 beds for mentally ill patients over the past three years, and another 1,772 beds may be closed next year to meet budget cuts, the organization says.

In Colorado, staffing at state mental health hospitals is so short that the state no longer complies with federal Medicaid and Medicare funding rules, putting about $14 million at risk for next fiscal year.

Colorado lawmakers responded by adding enough money to hire five nurses at two mental-health hospitals. Budget writers said they would have liked to add twice as many nurses, but the money was not available.

“They are so severely understaffed, it has become a serious safety issue for patients and caregivers,” Colorado state Sen. Mary Hodge said.

Texas ranks near the bottom in per-capita mental health spending, one of nine states that spends $66 or less per person, and officials there have proposed cutting an additional $134 million in mental health services in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.

Those cuts could mean immediately halting behavioral health services for thousands, even though Texas sheriffs have complained the cuts would…[read the rest of the article here]

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March 21, 2011 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , ,

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