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Mental Health Budget Cuts Put Strain On Services With Extreme High Demand

Jernej Furman: focusonmore.com
Flickr CC BY 2.0

This past legislative session, the Behavioral Health Division's budget was cut by $7.5 million. These cuts need to be implemented by July 1.

Andi Summerville, the executive director of the Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers, said mental health centers have to cut outpatient and some inpatient services.

Summerville added this is especially worrisome in a particularly bad year for Wyoming.

"Wyoming hit a pretty high suicide rate last year, claiming again, the number one spot in the country," said Summerville. "And so those services have been extraordinarily in demand over the past year, and unfortunately, the best way to mitigate that is to not lose the programs."

Summerville said mental health centers throughout the state are in the process of reducing programming when they’re needed most. Especially for services that are catered towards people who are just starting to encounter problems rather than once the problem has worsened.

"If we have reduced hours, reduced staff, we're not meeting those needs. The likelihood of Title 25 and people coming in with severe crises just goes up," said Summerville. "And so we're always concerned about saving money on the front end might not actually save the state money on the back end."

Summerville said they are working hard to find funding through federal programs, grants and local governments.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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