State lawmakers taking a second look at mental health budget cuts

State funding for mental health care has seen a steep decline around the country since 2008, but that may be changing, reports the Associated Press. After last year’s two mass shootings by mentally disturbed young men, lawmakers are beginning to consider whether the cuts were too drastic: 

“[N]ine state-run psychiatric hospitals were closed and another 3,200 beds for mental health patients were eliminated, dramatically reducing treatment options for the poor and people in the criminal-justice system. Thousands of patients were turned onto the streets.”

In Columbia, S.C., the cuts led to a sharp increase in the number of people with mental illness in the city’s jail to the point where it exceeded that in its public psychiatric hospital. 

States, including South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Kansas, have announced plans to either increase funding, expand access or at least hold off on further cuts. In Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin approved a 20 percent budget increase and told AP that there will be an “emphasis on being able to identify people that might have mental health challenges.”

Polaris Health Directions offers powerful Web-based solutions to help health care providers in the private and public sectors better assess and monitor the mental health of youth and adults. 

Polaris’s outcomes management systems have been developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health, and bring an evidence-based approach to addressing mental health. As learning systems, they help organizations and service systems improve their targeting of mental health services so that clients receive the level and intensity of care they need the “first time” resulting in more cost-effective treatment.

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