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28 October 2011

Letter to the Editor: Restore Funding

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Published: Herald Independent, Oct. 28, 2011

As we consider the financial crises taking place in our state, there is a sector of our population that has perhaps taken the worst hit of all—the mentally ill and their families. It is a statistical fact that during economic downturns, those with mental illness suffer worse financial stress.

The State of S.C. has severely slashed the budget for the mentally ill – over 40 percent in the last three years, from $220 million to $130 million. Yet, the net result is that there are no actual savings for the tax payer!

Consider that outpatient treatment comes to an annual expense of only $2,400 per individual. Unfortunately, when this treatment is not available to the mentally ill, it results in these individuals going to hospitals or prisons, which are a far worse and much more expensive environments to receive care.

The Department of Corrections spends over $17,000 each year per inmate, and this is not taking into account police costs, court costs, public defenders, etc. An estimated 55 percent of the prisoner population suffers from the medical issue of mental illness. This leads to severe behavioral problems and, in some cases, suicide.

Please help organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) fight for mental health reform by contacting your representatives and letting them know that money cut is not money saved!

Paton Blough
Greenville, S.C.

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