Texas Tribune: Texas Budget Cuts Could Shrink Mental Health Help

At AGE, we focus on caring for the elderly and their caregivers. Yet, many of the issues involved in caring for an older loved one overlap with issues related with other vulnerable populations, including mental health and people with disabilities. In fact, many community resources, like adult day care, caregiver education, and durable medical equipment accessibility, medicaid and medicare, directly impact both the elderly and individuals with disabilities. The upcoming state budget cuts will impact many social services across the spectrum, but this story by the Texas Tribune shines a spotlight on a Texas with fewer mental health services. Leave your thoughts in the comments below- SP

Texas Budget Cuts Could Shrink Mental Health Help
by Ben Philpott

Early budget debates are filled with plenty of cost-cutting buzzwords. Finding efficiencies, trimming the fat, justifying investment. Things that Andrea Richardson says aren’t easy to do when talking about money spent on community mental health services.

“It’s difficult to measure that value until you look at the impact on our communities,” said Richardson, the executive director of Round Rock’s Bluebonnet Trails, a community mental health and mental retardation center servering eight counties in Central Texas. “When you look at the persons that will wind up in jail, in the state hospitals and in our emergency rooms, or persons that will no longer be able to be at work or be in school effectively — that’s the value we provide.”

Richardson said that while benefits from mental health services may be hard to quantify in a budget, the effect of budget cuts is an easy equation. “In 2010 we served almost 16,000 persons. For the next biennium what we’ve determined from those numbers is that we’re going to be able to serve 3,400 persons fewer than we did in 2010,” she said — 1,900 adults and 1,500 kids cut loose.

Read the whole story at Texas Tribune online.