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Mental health industry gets financial lift

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The struggling mental health sector just received some much needed funds. The state released 15 million dollars to help bring back some important services.

Considering that money will be spread among more than 100 providers in our area, will it make a dent?

Since 2006, Southeastern Mental Health has had to cut services and providers, leaving many patients with mental health and developmental disabilities to fend for themselves. About a month ago it closed its doors, they just didn’t have the money to keep going.

“We’ve been forced to close some of our group homes, which the children really need to be in, we had six homes, now we’re down to two,” said community services director Carolyn Blue.

Blue and members of her family started Word of Life Outreach in 2002.

As a former schoolteacher, Blue saw the need to help treat at risk youth with mental health and developmental disorders. State cutbacks have forced mental health providers like her to pay out of their own pockets just to keep their organizations alive.

“But now the savings and stuff is gone, because you had to keep things a float,” said AJ Johnson, director of business affairs.

“For the past two years, at least two and a half years we’ve kept staff on, when we really couldn’t afford to keep staff on,” Blue said.

Southeastern Center for Mental Health got word Wednesday that 15 million dollars will be available to help offset the state budget.

The center’s director, Foster Norman anticipates using $400,000 to bring back services that had been cut.

Carolyn Blue says the community service treatment that helps patients transition back into society is one area suffering the most. “We’re forcing them back into the communities, and they’re the ones who will end up raping our children, raping our grandparents, and breaking into stores and stuff, and murdering people, having accidents, and they will end up in prison.”

That money still has to be spread among hundreds of providers in our area, but Southeastern anticipates using the funds for adult substance abuse or child developmental disability services.

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Story summary

videoThe struggling mental health sector just received some much needed funds. The state released 15 million dollars to help bring back some important services.

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