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News Section: State Government

Mental Health and Addiction Workers Worried About Deep Cuts

Published Tuesday, February 14, 2012 2:05 am

BRADENTON – Mental health and addiction facilities are anxious in light of the deep cuts included in the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations budget proposal released last week. The proposal includes a $39.6 million reduction in substance abuse funding and $84.6 million in adult mental health.

The Florida Council for Community Mental Health in Tallahassee reported that the Senate proposal represented a 32 percent cut of adult substance abuse and mental health funding, after an analysis of the proposal. Florida now ranks at the bottom of the 50 states in per capita mental health funding according to the group.

The Senate's proposal would continue to fund adult emergency services, including detoxification and mental health crisis stabilization. But outpatient services would be all but eliminated. 

“Is it possible that some of our legislators are not aware that Florida is in the midst of a prescription pain pill epidemic and that our state needs increased addictions treatment services, not cuts?” asked Mary Ruiz, President/CEO of Manatee Glens, the specialty hospital and outpatient practice that receives state mental health and addictions funding in Manatee County. “Have our legislators forgotten that when they closed G P Wood State Mental Hospital in 2002 that they asked us to care for these people at the community mental health centers?”

Ruiz says the facility saw a spike in demand locally for services over the last year. 

“Manatee Glens has seen double digit increases in every service that we offer in just one year.” says Ruiz. “Florida has not risen very far off the bottom of the economic downturn and the pressures of lost jobs, foreclosed homes and stress are still affecting the community. If these cuts go into place we will be shutting down services for 3,500 current patients.”

A rally in opposition to the proposed cuts to mental health and addiction programs across Florida was organized by the Manatee Glens Monday. Protestors marched from their facility to the  county courthouse holding signs that voiced their dissent.

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