Look Forward to More Shootings: What the Sequester Means for Mental Health Services

6 Mar

The mental health advocacy group Mental Health America reports that 1.3 million children and adults are at risk of losing mental health services based on the cuts dictated by the sequester.

That means more mentally ill people will die. In all likelihood, more police officers will die. Unless our elected officials figure out how to stop squabbling and do their jobs, we will be seeing an uptick in the number of shootings this year.

Whenever there’s a school shooting, politicians blame our broken mental healthcare system. Some of them do it to throw the heat off of gun control. Others like the sound of it because they can nod and provide vaguely concerned sound bites about how disgraceful our current system is in the hopes that their constituents will think they’re doing something about it. But more than a million people, including children, may lose their mental healthcare because of the sequester, and I don’t see anyone in Washington evincing any concern.

MHA reports that the sequester also slashes over two million dollars from national youth violence prevention initiatives–the very programs most needed to counteract school shootings. None of the politicians who were grandstanding about this problem a few weeks ago seem the least bit conflicted about allowing that axe to fall.

Substance abuse treatment will also feel the pain of the sequester with an estimated 10% reduction in budget for federally-funded treatment programs and resources. Grants funding research in substance abuse treatment will also be cut. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ numbers for 2007, 26% of violent crimes in the U.S. were committed by people under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

http://publichealthfunding.org/uploads/MHA_MH_SA_Sequester_Impacts_Detailed.pdf

Our country is like a dysfunctional family denying its role in their children’s trauma.


For a good overview of what the sequester means for mental health services, I recommend this article by The American Prospect:
http://prospect.org/article/sequester-mental-health-crisis
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