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Campaign Mounts to Protect Pennsylvania's Mental Health Services
Date:6/3/2009

Advocates Dial In to Protest Budget Cuts

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of mental health advocates participated in yesterday's Statewide Mental Health Call-In Day to protest proposed mental health cuts by the Governor and the state Senate.

In his 2009-2010 budget proposal, Governor Rendell recommended a $3 million cut in community mental health funds. The Senate's proposal, SB 850, cuts an additional $24 million. "If the proposed cuts are enacted, Pennsylvania's mental health system will not be able to meet the current need for essential services at a time when the need is rising," said Sue Walther, executive director of The Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania (MHAPA). "The state's community mental health programs are documenting a growing number of people seeking treatment because they are unemployed and without insurance; are veterans coming back from the war; or are people experiencing significant and increased anxiety over economic instability."

In the past month advocates across the Commonwealth including members of MHAPA, Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association, Disability Rights Network (DRN), NAMI and Family Training and Advocacy Center have come together to mount letter writing campaigns, email blasts, visits, and calls to legislators to voice their concerns about mental health budget cuts and, more specifically, SB 850.

SB 850 proposes to reduce the community mental health budget by approximately $10 million. This cut is in addition to the Governor's proposed two percent decrease. Advocates estimate this would cut off community services to more than 4,000 individuals. In this same legislation, Behavioral Health Services Initiative (BHSI) would be reduced by 24 percent ($13.532 million) which would eliminate services to 2,761 individuals with mental illness and 7,500 individuals in need of substance abuse treatment.
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SOURCE Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania
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