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A letter to the editor of Reflejos Bilingual Newspaper

March 19, 2015

Dear Editor:

State funded mental health providers are once again facing the looming possibility of severe funding cuts.  If Governor Rauner’s budget were adopted our community mental health center would lose funding that supports all of the mental health services for 1,847 of the 4,000 clients that we now serve. It does not make economic sense to cut mental health services when the savings achieved then shift care costs to hospitals, paramedics, public safety and homeless service providers.

During the last period of severe cuts to state funded mental health services, from FY2009 to 2011, the state cut mental health and co–occurring addictions treatment services by $113 million. It then spent $131.4 million in increased hospitalizations and institutionalizations as a result of people losing access to community based treatment.  The Illinois Hospital Association data showed emergency room visits for behavioral health crises spiked by 19% during that period.  These hospital emergency room visits resulted in extended hospitalizations in 25% of the cases. One emergency room visit in a behavioral health crisis costs $6,328 and the cost of a full year of community based treatment for a mental illness is $10,243.

Community behavioral health services are the solution, not the problem.

Sincerely,

Karen Beyer

Executive Director,  Ecker Center for Mental Health

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