$85 million in budget cuts set to roll out during the 2013 calendar year will impact up to 750,000 jobs in the United States. Everyone from government officials to healthcare professionals will be affected.
These sequester cuts could cause a mental health crisis.
The Mental Health Block Grant program, that currently helps thousands of people gain access to treatment for mental illness, could potentially be the hardest hit.
President Obama states that, “These cuts are not smart. They will hurt our economy and cost us jobs. And Congress can turn them off at any time – as soon as both sides [Democrats and Republicans] are willing to compromise.”
If all of the budget cuts that are currently included in the sequester plan are carried out, an estimated 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children will be left untreated.
What does this really mean?
Instead of receiving treatment for mental health and emotional disturbances, the untreated individuals are more likely to be hospitalized, to commit crimes which increases the money spent through the legal system, and to be homeless. Funds spent on preventing and treating mental illness when symptoms are initially identified is important, so the sequester plan for limited spending threatens to harm those who need help the most.
After the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, federal and state legislators discussed increasing mental health spending. There was discussion of an additional $30 million in funding for community-based mental health treatment, which will now be replaced with sequester budget cuts that could cause crisis in the mental health world instead of helping more people who need services.
So what can be done to prevent the number of untreated mentally ill individuals from rising?
The House of Representatives has passed five bills at an attempt to avoid the sequester plans from being carried out. Further legislation will hopefully prevent full implementation of mental health budget cuts.