In the clutches of international financial difficulties and an economy that is proving to be difficult to manage at all levels, many states are grappling with tough decisions in terms of putting together a sound, reasonable, and acceptable budget. California is a prime example; with massive debt and levels of unemployment hitting record highs, the state is looking at a series of difficult choices in deciding which services are most critical, and mental health is not exempt. Recently, state government proposed several measures aimed at allowing the governor to achieve a balanced budget, one of which threatened to create significant problems for state mental health professionals, their clients, and California’s children in need of therapy.
The proposition, which was resoundingly voted down this week, would have amended the Mental Health Services Act, passed in 2004 and credited with making great strides for children and state psychotherapy programs at large. If the proposition had passed, approximately $230 million per year, for a period of two years, would have been kept from the state’s mental health industry and related social programs, going instead toward facilitating a more attractive budget. The proposition would have had the greatest effect on programs for children and young adults.
As a number of states across the country share in the burden of balancing social programs and incentives with exhausted funds, many clients and professionals may be at risk. But California has put forth a valuable message about the importance of the mental health industry with its vote, and is likely to be joined by other states in declaring that this critical area, akin to basic medical and emergency services, is not negotiable.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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