Mental health services slashed by budget cuts

December 18, 2008 10:13:37 AM PST
Shrinking government funding has put a growing number of organizations in jeopardy. Mental health services in Illinois have already been slashed by $25 million and another $80 million could be cut as well.

A $100 million cut could leave more than 62,000 people in Illinois who are struggling with mental illness out of care.

"If someone is psychotic, out of touch with reality, it can be devastating, both for the individual, him or herself, as well as those around them," said Suzanne Andriukaitis.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill executive director Suzanne Andriukaitis is worried about the future.

"This is horrible, because what we know today is that with proper medication and psycho-social services and therapy people can recover," said Andriukaitis.

Mental health services providers like the Community Counseling Centers of Chicago will have to start turning people away. Executive director Tony Kopera says they are doing everything they can.

"We've closed a couple of sites," said Kopera. "We've reduced staff, we're not filling positions that are open, and we'll do that to make sure that we can maintain. And at the same time we'll continue our strenuous advocacy efforts on behalf of the people we provide care for."

The governor's office says they "recently acted on the supplemental appropriation passed by the General Assembly to restore $175.9 million in the fiscal year 2009 budget for various services including mental health."

People like Fred Friedman, who suffers from depression and was once homeless, hopes things get better.

"I worry that I'm going to get sick again, I'm worried that I'm going to lose -- well, I don't have much to lose anymore, but I worry that I'm going to lose the little bit that I have," said Friedman.

"In times when more people are willing to get care, it's hard to get care," Kopera said.

Alliance for the Mentally Ill
www.namigc.org

Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois
www.cbha.net


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