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Mental Health Budget Cuts Have Devastating Effects

September 11, 2015

Recently, the US Federal Government and a number of states announced explosive mental health budget cuts. From 2009-2011 itself, over 1.8 billion dollars’ worth of non-Medicaid funding was cut from the mental health budget. These cuts affect not only mental illness sufferers, but general civilians as well.

Communities in the US have seen many public attacks and mass shootings. The aftermath of this violence increased the stigma of mental illness, as the media often uncovered these perpetrators’ histories of psychiatric problems. Fear became a determining factor in the way we treat our populations with mental illness. However, it is easy to forget the tragedies where people with mental illnesses become victims. Mental illnesses can lead to suicide, dropping out, incarceration, homelessness, and other tragedies that tear families and communities apart.

The lack of available treatment is an enormous factor into the behavior and effect of mental illness treatment. When less funding is provided for mental health services and treatments, fewer individuals are able to access the care and help that they need in order to function well in society. Ultimately, costs are not truly saved; they are simply transferred to hospital emergency rooms that are often filled with people who are suffering from mental health issues. A very small percentage of mental illness sufferers carry the risk of becoming violent, but without adequate treatment, these individuals pose a greater risk of hurting themselves or someone else.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 out of every 17 Americans lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. About 1 in 10 children live with a serious mental disorder. One group of Americans that requires these services are military members and veterans, who often suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD or TBI as a result of their experiences. This population often has to pay more out of pocket or even deal with an extended wait before services and treatment can be scheduled. In order to decrease violence and suffering in our communities, homes, and populations, we need to take care of our mental health. If you, or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, feel free to join our chat to talk about it.

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