Proposed cuts detrimental to mental health system



DATE: March 3, 2015 PHONE: 865-719-7221

Proposed cuts detrimental to mental health system

A proposed cut in the Bureau of TennCare’s operating budget has consumers of mental health services, health care professionals, advocates, and law enforcement personnel concerned that the lives of those who benefit from case management services will be deeply compromised.

The proposed 2016 fiscal year budget calls for a $30 million reduction — $10 million in state funds and $20 million in matching federal funds — in Level 2 Case Management Services, which funds community based care for the mentally ill in Tennessee. It is the largest reduction to a single program in TennCare’s budget.
For people living with a serious and persistent mental illness, life can be a complex challenge of balancing a multitude of fragile needs, from medication to housing, from employment to overall physical health, from substance abuse to healthy relationships – just to name a few.

Level 2 Case Management is, as Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services CEO Brian Buuck said, “a service for helping the serious mentally ill citizens of our community function in their daily lives.” “Case management services,” said Buuck, “is the key avenue by which people who have serious mental health and substance abuse issues experience the sanctuary of support and the continuity of help. Monitoring medication, assisting with housing and employment, coordinating both mental health and medical care, and managing life circumstances, are all aspects of how case managers help consumers of mental health services improve their life.”

Is it a perfect science? No. Relapses can occur; hardships can derail recovery; and problem circumstances can lead to additional problems; but without the community based care coordination and support provided through case management services, the intervention required can be far more costly.

Cuts to this type of service and programming would be detrimental to the mental health system. Without the care, support, and help provided through case management, individuals are prone to requiring more costly resources and services, like emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitalizations, or jail. The likelihood for relapse is also greater without the networking and support provided by case management services.

Mental health services are effective. Individuals with serious mental illnesses are now, more than ever, able to live quality, productive lives in the community due to the significant strides that have been made at the national, state and local level to improve the availability of supports and services. It is critical that we do not regress and that consumers of mental health services receive the continuity of support, care, and help needed through Level 2 case management services.

Michael Yates is the Director of Development at Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services

Ridgeview is a private, not for profit community mental health center with locations in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan, Roane, and Scott counties.

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