Groups to Gov: Don’t Cut Mental Health Services From State Budget
CONCORD, N.H. - As Governor John Lynch grapples with a projected $220 million shortfall in next year's budget, petition signatures are being gathered by groups concerned about further cuts to mental health services. Michael Cohen, the executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in New Hampshire, says the need for services has gone up by about 12 percent this year, a lot more than anticipated. He worries about further cuts to already-strapped services, like those at Community Mental Health Centers.
"You have greater demand, less supply. People can't get access to services; it means that they end up in emergency rooms at hospitals; they end up on the street."
Cohen says cuts to mental health services could end up costing more in the long run, because of the impact on other services in the state, such as at hospitals, schools, and law enforcement agencies.
"People with mental illness might end up unfortunately in jails, rather than in a treatment facility, because their illness might mean that they might be picked up for loitering or disturbance of the peace."
Cohen says that NAMINew Hampshire has joined with other health professionals in circulating the petition, which has garnered over 2000 signatures so far. The petition asks the Governor to find alternatives to cuts in mental health services. The groups plan to to present the petition to the state legislature and the Governor next month.