NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 28, 2014

Restore mental health services

To the editor:

It is hard to fathom that in a year when Massachusetts has significant new revenue, Gov. Deval Patrick has chosen to abandon the state’s mental health community. Gov. Patrick’s fiscal 2015 budget calls for eliminating access to vital mental health services — a crushing blow to our most vulnerable population.

Mental illness affects one in four families and one in 10 children. Unless the cuts are restored, over 400 children, families and single adults would lose access to vital services that allow them to live independently in their own homes and communities. What’s more, the cuts would prevent “discharge-ready” individuals from moving out of state Department of Mental Health facilities and into less-costly, community-based settings to receive continued care.

The state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Mass) — along with other advocates for the mental health community — must now rely on a state Legislature that has demonstrated great compassion and understanding in years past to reverse these unconscionable cuts. We remain energized in our efforts and hopeful that when the final budget is complete, critical funding for children and adults with mental illness will be restored.

Laurie Martinelli

Executive director, NAMI Mass

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