Marchers denounce mental health cuts

SAN ANTONIO – Marching from historic San Fernando Cathedral to Travis Park United Methodist Church on Jan. 15, nearly 180 mental health consumers, family members, clergy and other mental health advocates brought attention to the fact that an incident involving an out-of-control mental health consumer never should have occurred.

The Jan. 13 incident involved an individual destroying $250,000 - $300,000 worth of statues in the cathedral. The individual was eventually subdued by people in the cathedral and is currently in the County Detention Center.

The marchers pointed out that the local mental health authority suffered a $7 million budget cut and that this incident is only one of many that will occur as consumers are left without quality mental health services.

The marchers also stressed that jail is not treatment. At present the Bexar County Adult Detention Center is the largest provider of mental health services in the state of Texas!

Many signs denounced the recent legislative budget cuts and one in particular asked: “Billions for war, zero for mental health services – Why?”

The march in downtown San Antonio was the brainchild of Father David Garcia from San Fernando, Rev. John Flowers from Travis Park UMC and Rabbi Barry Block from Temple Beth El.

Observers stated that the march is the beginning of what promises to be a long but badly needed struggle for those with mental illness who have limited incomes and no health care coverage.

The author, a social worker and veteran of the civil rights, labor and peace movements, can be reached at mentalhealthjustice@yahoo.com.