ATLANTA State budget cuts could hit mental health services hard in Georgia, forcing behavioral health officials to pump more money into handling crisis situations instead of programs to prevent those situations, the states mental health chief said.
In three days of budget hearings this week, state agency heads said they plan to meet Gov. Brian Kemps orders for spending cuts mostly by eliminating vacant staff positions, upgrading technology and shifting funds between programs. Those cuts target behind-the-scenes work and, for the most part, would make little difference to the general public.
Thats not the case for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, said Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald. She told lawmakers that cuts totaling about $80 million through June 2021 would be felt by more than 200,000 people with mental health issues the agency served last year in Georgia.
It was not possible for us to take the cuts without a reduction of services to individuals in the state, Fitzgerald said.
The department drafted a memo last fall warning that some of the proposed cuts could risk impacting increased suicidality, substance abuse disorders and demand on crisis services. The memo highlighted how the cuts would especially hurt community service boards, which contract with the state to provide local mental health services in counties, cities and towns.
The cuts would largely affect so-called core services that fund programs to help mentally ill people stay in their homes and hold down jobs. Those services, done mostly by community service boards, aim to prevent health and behavioral emergencies that could land someone in jail or a psychiatric ward.
That preventative work has been the agencys focus since 2010 under a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to curb lengthy stays in psychiatric hospitals for Georgias mentally ill. Since then, admissions to the states five psychiatric hospitals have stopped. And lawmakers have approved more than $270 million to bolster the agency over the past decade.
But along with the cuts, Fitzgerald said the agency plans to shift $13 million to fund a growing demand for private psychiatric beds. Those funds were earmarked last year for preventative services but had to be diverted to the crisis beds as more of the states mentally ill seek intensive treatment, she said.
The safety net is stretched to the max, Fitzgerald said. But we feel like were in this together.
In August, a report from a federal monitor for the DOJ settlement urged state officials to boost funding for mental health services, not cut it. Fitzgerald declined to elaborate after a meeting this week on whether the cuts and the $13 million shift to hospital beds might run afoul of the federal government.
Well leave it to (the) Department of Justice and the lawyers to determine how that impacts compliance, she said.
The governors office pushed back on Fitzgeralds assessment of the cuts, arguing that staff in charge of the budgeting process reached different conclusions about the impacts.
Commissioner Fitzgeralds claims are not supported by our analysis, nor would we allow such a significant disruption in service to Georgians, said Kemps communications director, Candice Broce.
Fitzgeralds rundown of the cuts alarmed lawmakers on the House and Senate Appropriations committees.
Rep. Katie Dempsey, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing mental health, said she was startled to learn about details of the cuts and see the stark language used in last falls internal agency memo.
The loss of services, its hard to even imagine right now how were going to deal with this, said Dempsey, R-Rome.
Rural Georgia communities especially could suffer from fewer state dollars for mental health, said Rep. Darlene Taylor, R-Thomasville. She said crisis episodes involving mentally ill people in rural areas are on the rise, and budget cuts that hinder getting help for those people should not move forward.
This budget, I cannot see how this is going to work, Taylor said. A spoonful of sugar is not going to make this go down.
- Mental health professionals offer suggestions to those suffering with stress, anxiety - Olean Times Herald - March 25th, 2020
- How can I tell if my child has mental health issues and what can I do to help? - Nevada Today - March 25th, 2020
- Mental health clinics and organizations alter offerings | Forest Lake Times - ECM Publishers - March 25th, 2020
- West Texas community mental health partners offering in-person and telehealth services - MyFoxZone.com KIDY - March 25th, 2020
- Coronavirus and mental health | Local - The Baytown Sun - March 25th, 2020
- Tips to take care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic - WTOL - March 25th, 2020
- Participants Needed for Online Study on Social Distancing and Mental Health - University of Arkansas Newswire - March 25th, 2020
- Experts: Use the time to better your mental health - WWL News, Talk, Sports Radio Station - March 25th, 2020
- Maine mental health workers brace for spike in clients whose lives 'may never be the same' - Bangor Daily News - March 25th, 2020
- This startup is tackling the hidden mental health impacts of cancer - Wired.co.uk - March 25th, 2020
- Wasatch County Council Hears Reports Regarding Mental Health Services And The School District - KPCW - March 25th, 2020
- Coronavirus: six ways of turning anxiety into positive mental health habits - The Conversation UK - March 25th, 2020
- Surprising ways parents can maintain their mental health while working from home - AZ Big Media - March 25th, 2020
- Why your mental health may be suffering in the COVID-19 pandemic - PBS NewsHour - March 25th, 2020
- Snap rolling out Here For You mental health tool early with focus on coronavirus - The Verge - March 25th, 2020
- BREVARD COVID-19 UPDATE: Palm Point Behavioral Health Fully Operational and Serving the Needs of Our Community | - SpaceCoastDaily.com - March 25th, 2020
- 9 Mental Health Practices To Maintain (Or Begin) During The Coronavirus Lockdown - Forbes - March 23rd, 2020
- COVID-19 And Your Mental Health - University of Arkansas Newswire - March 23rd, 2020
- Companies are making mental-health care fast and accessible - New York Post - March 23rd, 2020
- 'Wake up, millennials: Now is the time to prioritize your mental health,' therapist says of coronavirus pandemic - CNBC - March 23rd, 2020
- Using video conferencing for mental health consultations - Swinburne University of Technology - March 23rd, 2020
- Mental health professionals share insight into coping with COVID-19 - Pine River Times - March 23rd, 2020
- Mental health professionals finding new ways to care for patients - WBAY - March 23rd, 2020
- Keeping up with mental health during a time of uncertainty - WIFR - March 23rd, 2020
- Is there a right way to worry about coronavirus? And other mental health tips - The Guardian - March 23rd, 2020
- How working from home during coronavirus affects productivity and mental health - Vox.com - March 23rd, 2020
- Coronavirus and the state of your mental health - WGAL Susquehanna Valley Pa. - March 23rd, 2020
- Failure to address coronavirus mental health issues will prolong impact | TheHill - The Hill - March 23rd, 2020
- Don't forget to take care of your mental health as well during the COVID-19 pandemic - News 5 Cleveland - March 23rd, 2020
- Stay active during isolation: Help maintain your physical and mental health during COVID-19 period - KSN-TV - March 23rd, 2020
- Social distancing can take a toll on mental health: Anybody can be affected by this - WITI FOX 6 Milwaukee - March 23rd, 2020
- What you need to know about maintaining your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak - Boston.com - March 23rd, 2020
- 8 mental health tips to weather the coronavirus crisis like a pro - Cyclingnews.com - March 22nd, 2020
- COVID-19 in Minnesota: Mental health resources to help get through this tough time - FOX 9 - March 22nd, 2020
- Reframing the narrative: How to protect your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic - Northwest Herald - March 22nd, 2020
- Containing The Coronavirus Pandemic Seriously Threatens Our Mental Health: Here Are 5 Strategies To Protect Yours. - Forbes - March 22nd, 2020
- Mental health tax lays foundation for improving health outcomes in Winnebago County - Rockford Register Star - March 22nd, 2020
- MENTAL HEALTH: Medical experts give advice on how to stay healthy amid uncertainty - KTTC - March 22nd, 2020
- When Home Becomes The Workplace: Mental Health And Remote Work - Forbes - March 22nd, 2020
- Get outdoors, create routines and ask for help to maintain mental health while practicing social distancing - Summit Daily News - March 22nd, 2020
- Fayetteville mental health professionals offer tips for dealing with COVID-19 related anxiety - The Fayetteville Observer - March 22nd, 2020
- How to make mental health a priority during the coronavirus pandemic - ESPN - March 22nd, 2020
- How to maintain good mental health amid social distancing and working from home - KTIV - March 22nd, 2020
- Coronavirus and mental health: Anxieties spike amid Bay Area's isolation - San Jos Spotlight - March 22nd, 2020
- Here's how to take care of your mental health during isolation, according to a mental health expert - wtvr.com - March 22nd, 2020
- We can't leave those with mental illness, addiction disorders behind | TheHill - The Hill - March 22nd, 2020
- Questions about mental health treatment to be removed from Michigan bar exam next year - Lansing State Journal - March 22nd, 2020
- Snodgrass Says Residents Mental Health Issues Are Top Of Mind - HighRiverOnline.com - March 22nd, 2020
- Social recession: how isolation can affect physical and mental health - The Guardian - March 22nd, 2020
- Mental health agencies gear up for increased coronavirus-related workload - 13abc Action News - March 22nd, 2020
- Senate passes bill to boost mental health care access - Lowell Sun - February 14th, 2020
- Could mental health support be the key to keeping more Colorado preschool teachers in the field? - The Colorado Sun - February 14th, 2020
- Mental health care is vital to routine health care - The Boston Globe - February 14th, 2020
- "This is an emergency": Whistleblower says Olympic Committee needs to do more to address mental health - CBS News - February 14th, 2020
- Therapy program seeks outreach to improve mental health of refugees - The Daily Orange - February 14th, 2020
- Lululemon exec: Mental health is the 'next major step in our journey' - Yahoo Finance - February 14th, 2020
- Parkland shooting: Race is on to teach kids about mental health - Palm Beach Post - February 14th, 2020
- How are RAs prepared to address mental health? - The Stute - February 14th, 2020
- Incarcerated Teens Struggle With Higher Rates of Mental Health Issues. This Is How One Teen Found His Way Through - Colorado Public Radio - February 14th, 2020
- Climate change and the toll it takes on our mental health - The Hill - February 14th, 2020
- In Eastern Washington, young children needing immediate mental health care often have few options - Pacific Northwest Inlander - February 14th, 2020
- Bridgeview Mental Health Center moving to new location in Clinton with no bus route - KWQC-TV6 - February 14th, 2020
- Overland Park takes first step toward creation of mental health task force - shawneemissionpost.com - February 14th, 2020
- Garden City man accused of killing uncle will undergo mental health evaluation - Idaho Press-Tribune - February 14th, 2020
- Snapchat will now offer mental health tools in the app - MIT Technology Review - February 14th, 2020
- PM News Brief: Rep. Curtis And The ERA, Youth Mental Health & Timing An Olympic Bid - KUER 90.1 - February 14th, 2020
- Bayfront to close Intensive Outpatient Behavioral Health Program in Punta Gorda - Wink News - February 14th, 2020
- Study Reveals "Mental Health Crisis" in U.K. Film, TV Industries - Hollywood Reporter - February 14th, 2020
- My patients dont separate their physical and mental health. Medicare must stop asking us to - The Guardian - February 14th, 2020
- Massachusetts law meant to protect people with mental illness may make them sicker - The Boston Globe - February 14th, 2020
- By the Book: The Glass Eye and writing about mental illness - University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News - February 14th, 2020
- The Championship and a talk about mental health Football Weekly Extra - The Guardian - February 14th, 2020
- Neglecting your mental health could affect your heart health - WQOW TV News 18 - February 14th, 2020
- Doctor Who's Awkward Mental Health Fears Reaction Explained by BBC - Screen Rant - February 14th, 2020
- New Mental Health Certification Will Help Create Healthier Workplaces - Forbes - February 7th, 2020
- Soaring higher: Congratulations to LHU's mental health counseling program | News, Sports, Jobs - Lock Haven Express - February 7th, 2020
- Vaping ordinance and youth mental health are now top goals for Mountain View City Council - Mountain View Voice - February 7th, 2020
- Cries for help on Twitter linked to spike in mental-health hospitalisations - Yahoo Sports - February 7th, 2020
- Other states starting to follow Massachusetts' lead on bar exam, mental health - Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly - February 7th, 2020
- Stress Less: Tech Companies In The Mental Health Space Are Finally Going Mainstream - Forbes - February 7th, 2020