The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 23, 2013

After shootings, states rethink mental health cuts

(Continued)

Revenues have since recovered somewhat, and are projected to be at levels last seen in 2008.

In Kansas, under then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, state psychiatric hospitals began treating only the most dangerous cases. Caseloads at the Johnson County Mental Health Center near Kansas City rose from the recommended 15 per caseworker to more than 30 in 2010.

Tim DeWeese, the center's clinical director, said one of his patients who had finished college and gotten a job and an apartment became homeless after his doctor visits were cut off.

"It came crashing down all the way," DeWeese said.

Oklahoma also cut mental health programs in 2010 and 2011. But Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, a conservative elected in the GOP landslide of 2010 on a promise to cut spending, reversed course last year after grim warnings about the effect on public safety, and after several teen suicides in Oklahoma City.

"There just weren't enough resources," said Harry Tyler, director of the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma.

Fallin approved a 20 percent budget increase and has pledged to make mental health a priority again this year.

"You'll see more emphasis on being able to identify people that might have mental health challenges," she said.

Tyler said he would encourage Fallin to provide more money for screening teenagers who could endanger themselves or others.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another Republican, has promised to fully implement a new program under which people are required to take medication and attend therapy if a judge believes they pose a risk.

Mike Hammond, executive director of Kansas' Association of Community Mental Health Centers, said his state's governor is looking for new ideas on mental health care.

"I think he's realized what's happening in our system," Hammond said.

To be sure, Republicans have not given up on keeping state government lean and taxes low. And some party members question how much mental health spending will be approved.

"I'm not telling you she gets the money," former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson said of Haley.

Ty Masterson, Republican chairman of the Kansas Senate's Ways and Means Committee, acknowledged the same conflict: "There's obviously tension there."

Text Only
State and Nation
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee