30,000 mentally ill may be cut off in Texas

SAN ANTONIO - According to the Center for Health Care Services, the national average for mental health care spending is $103 per capita. In Texas, it is $34 and only $13 in San Antonio! Currently, only about 32 percent of the population is served. Texas is 49th in spending for mental health and substance abuse.

Yet, when the state Legislature meets in January, with a $18 billion dollar state shortfall expected, they plan to cut services deeply. They would slash care for about 30,000 mentally ill patients in Texas, and 2,400 here in the San Antonio area.

The plan would close facilities with psychiatrists in poorer areas, move them to the north and open only some medication centers.

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has ordered all agencies to slash budgets by 10 percent. With only 32 percent currently being served and a 9 percent area growth rate around San Antonio, along with growing unemployment and loss of medical insurance, the future is bleak for those who need care for mental illness and substance abuse.

State hospitals plan to treat 1,400 fewer patients. According to the San Antonio Express News, 11,400 adults and 2,600 children will be affected, along with 7,000 crises services.

Where will all these people go? The streets, the local emergency rooms and the jails? This will cost the state more than if these people were given treatment, according to a study by the Perryman Group. The independent study suggests an increase in Texas funding for mental health and substance abuse, which would yield huge gains over time.

The emergency rooms are usually the last recourse when someone is in difficulty or crisis. They are totally unsuited for necessary crisis stabilization. Mentally ill patents generally wait about 26 hours for emergency treatment.

If services close down, even more people will be wandering the streets or end up in jail. It is important to remember that many people with mental illness can live, work and have normal lives with reasonable follow-up and occasional crisis treatment. This slashing of services promises no treatment and no future for 30,000 Texans.


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  • Druggies don't belong in the same group as mental health patients. The amount by person would quickly shoot way up if self inflicted brain damage by druggies and alcoholics were wiped off the list.

    Addiction isn't a disease.

    Posted by Devonia Smith , 11/25/2010 7:53pm (5 years ago)

  • Something has to be done to get help for these folks with mental health conditions. This will not only effect the person with mental health issues but their families and community. These people need medication, counseling and support. If they do not obtain these they will harm themselves, family or someone else. Please give attention to this very serious problem. I believe it is easy a easy thing to ignore if your family does not know anyone with mental health problems but please think of the impact on our state.

    Posted by susan, 10/26/2010 12:49am (5 years ago)

  • As it stands today, people with mental illness can hardly expect to get more than a short stay in the ER, and a handshake on the way out. This is absolute madness.
    People say that throwing money at a problem is not the answer..... these people either have no one in their circle with a mental illness, or they are completely covered by insurance. As I see it, throwing money, and throwing it with a specific destination and plan, IS the answer to this problem.

    Posted by Donna Mitchell, 09/24/2010 1:02pm (5 years ago)

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