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Advocates: Budget cuts would be devastating for mental health

Posted May 20, 2009

— More than 1,500 patients, family members and providers gathered outside the General Assembly Wednesday to let state legislators know the impact cutting funding for health and human services could have on patients.

The state budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year could be cut by up to $1.4 billion in that area because of the struggling economy. Hundreds of millions in funding for mental health and developmental disabilities are at risk.

Budget cuts could hurt mental health patients Budget cuts could hurt mental health patients

Mental health advocates said that would devastate thousands of lives.

"We hope to be able to show legislators today that these are real people that will be impacted by potentially devastating – in some cases, quite honestly, maybe life-losing – cuts," said John Tote, executive director of the Mental Health Association of North Carolina.

In past years, advocates said, they have focused on opportunities to improve patient care and ways to move North Carolina forward in that area. This year, they said, it's about survival.

David Taylor, 25, was born severely disabled, but with daily assistance he has been able to live on his own for seven years and obtain a job in data entry with Richard Petty Motorsports

"I live every day in fear that he'll lose his services and end up in an institution, and he's too independent and too able-bodied for that," his mother, Judy Taylor said.

"He goes to the grocery store, movies, ball games. He's involved in the community, Civitan and church," she added. "He lives a life like everyone else, but if he loses his services, it cuts everything out."

For John Owen, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, budget cuts might result in cheaper medications, which he said, have much worse side effects.

"Years ago, if I became noncompliant on meds, I'd probably find myself in a state hospital, where the conditions can be quite abusive."

The domino effect, Tote said, could result in more jail time, homelessness and loss of life.

"It's been a long road to get (where we are now,)" Judy Taylor said. "You don't want to give it up."


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  • teacher-mom May 21, 2009

    Many of these unfortunate could end up in prison or dead. We need to make our choice. That is not acceptable to me. Mybe we need to stop some programs like giving cell phones to welfare people. It is nice, but it is not necessary. Medication is necessary.

  • affirmativediversity May 20, 2009

    Ahhhhh, Progressive Government, isn't it great?

    Has it dawned on anyone yet that the same political party (DEMOCRAT) that has been ranting about terrorist being placed and held in institutions without criminal charges will, without a second thought, sentence people with disabilities to life?

    People need to enlighten themselves about what "progressive" and "government run" means!

  • affirmativediversity May 20, 2009


  • wcnc May 20, 2009

    There is waste that can be cut in every State department. Every State department thinks cuts to their staff and programs would be devastating. But cuts need to be made. While the biggest cuts seem to be in education and mental health, I imagine most departments saw cuts of some kind in the coming year's budget.

  • nic May 20, 2009

    Hard economic times leads to higher suicide rates and increase demand on the mental health system, yet they want to cut not millions but billions of dollars. The cuts should be wide spread, not mainly from one dept.

  • sandlover May 20, 2009

    It seems that no one wants to have their programs cut. But the facts of the matter are someone will have have their program cut as the State has no money. I feel the cuts should be spread among all agencies and I also feel the state employees with 30 years or more shoud be given an incentive to retire. That would save millions.

  • gopack54 May 20, 2009

    Where were all these people when DHHS was wasting millions of dollars paying someone $65 an hour to take someone to the movies? Waste not . . want not.