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States have cut 1.8 billion from mental health services over the last 2.5 years, thoughts?

State budget writers looking for cash to balance the books have stripped a cumulative $1.8 billion from mental health services over the last 2 1/2 years, putting the public at risk as the mentally ill crowd emergency rooms and prisons, according to the nation's largest mental health advocacy group.

The Washington-based National Alliance on Mental Illness tallied state budget cuts to mental health services between 2008 and today and found that 32 states and Washington, D.C., cut funding just as economic stressors such as layoffs and home foreclosures boosted demand for services.

California slashed funding by more than $587 million, or 16 percent. Kentucky gutted its mental health budget by an astounding 47 percent over the last two years.

In many states, the picture is likely to get uglier for those relying on state mental services. Starting this summer, some $87 billion in federal stimulus money for Medicaid assistance to the states starts drying up. Because virtually all Medicaid-funded mental health services are optional, states projecting another couple years of budget deficits are likely to chop mental health services further.

"These are really dangerous times," warned Michael Fitzpatrick, NAMI's executive director. The group reviewed state mental health budget cuts in the wake of the January shooting in Arizona, in which six people died and 13 were injured, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The man charged with shooting them, Jared Loughner, showed signs of mental illness but was never referred for treatment.

"People really need to learn their lessons from Arizona and think about what we're doing to address mental illness," Fitzpatrick said.

Arizona cut mental health services more than $57 million between 2009 and 2010, reducing or cutting services for about 14,000 people. Less well known have been dramatic cuts in dozens more states, which have removed hospital beds and shuttered outpatient services. States have cut staff, reduced clinic hours and trimmed add-on services such as transportation and housing assistance credited for keeping the mentally ill in treatment and off the streets.

Eleven states simply treat fewer people. States with a net reduction in both inpatients and community settings between 2007 and 2009 were Alabama, Alaska, California, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming. Those numbers come from a federal accounting and are the most recent available; NAMI's report notes that those reductions were made "before the worst of the state budget cuts."

Answer Question

Asked by sweet-a-kins at 9:31 AM on Mar. 9, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 34 (67,502 Credits)
Answers (28)
  • sweet-a-kins

    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 9:31 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • Well again, wrong place to stop spending. Our mental health was already broken as it is. My son is Bipolar and we struggle with it alot because he doesnt want to take his medication. Getting him any help is and was already near impossible. I think rather then slashing it we need someone with experience in the field to come in and get it working the right way. It would probably cost less to run if they had it running right.

    Answer by gemgem at 9:33 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • Agree wrong area to cut esp in this crappy economy with folks losing everything they have.That is REALLY mentally stressful.

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:36 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • gemgem, its nearly impossible! I'm sorry you are going through that , getting them to stay on their meds is so hard...


    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 9:37 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • My mother is bipolar too.Every little excuse in the world to keep discontinuing meds.Hopefully she sticks to this latest one.

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:40 AM on Mar. 9, 2011


    My mother is bipolar too.Every little excuse in the world to keep discontinuing meds.Hopefully she sticks to this latest one.

    They can't help it....


    Comment by sweet-a-kins (original poster) at 9:44 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • Oh here, let me say it again.
    When the REAL cuts come, many more people will realize that they were dependent on the Government than they thought.
    The Till Is Dry People.

    Answer by jewjewbee at 9:45 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • To a degree sweet.My mother has been bipolar her entire life..she knows the illness very well now as do me and my sister.I know plenty of people who are bipolar that KNOW they have to take meds and stick to them.

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:46 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • Right tn my son knows he is bipolar and has been institutionalized more then once. He feels better on his meds and has admitted it, then will feel better and say oh I am not sick see the doctors are stupid. He then starts self medicating and ultimately gets himself into more trouble (be it with the law, girlfriends, friends or whatever other drama he can find) and I have to go pick up the peices, take him back to the hospital and start over again. Back years ago you could have your loved one places in a hospital for a longer term, and now I am lucky to get 10 days out of my insurance company for mental health services per year.

    Answer by gemgem at 9:50 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

  • I love my mother very much and tell her that almost everyday when we speak on the phone.She is a hard worker..started working when I was about 7 yrs old and has always held a job.The work helps to keep her mind busy.She is also one of the most honest people I have ever known.Bipolar disorder doesn't stop her from living and shes had 3 nervous breakdowns over the years..shes hardheaded though LOL.

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:52 AM on Mar. 9, 2011

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