Many individuals are unaware that both budgets before Pennsylvania's Legislature will result in significant, dangerous cuts to community mental health and substance abuse services.
While I acknowledge the challenges of addressing the state's budget deficit, the economic consequences of these changes will be felt by persons with mental illness as well as every employer, taxpayer, hospital and county government. Our community treatment infrastructure is so thread-bare that further cuts will produce more tragic outcomes and "sentinel events" that Gov. Ed Rendell's deputies will refuse to accept as consequences of their financially based decisions.
Reliable research has shown that cutting mental-health funding only raises costs to county governments, hospitals, employers, criminal justice systems and taxpayers. These cuts are more concerning because Gov. Rendell will be reneging on his promise to expand community services and supports in light of the Mayview State Hospital closure.
Don't be penny wise and pound foolish. Individuals who want adequate care for our seriously disabled citizens as well as people who do not want to pay for the cuts with higher costs elsewhere should call their state legislators and protest. Don't stand idly by while Gov. Rendell proceeds with his agenda to dismantle instead of fix mental-health care in our region. He isn't finished yet.
SUZANNE VOGEL-SCIBILIA, M.D.
Beaver County Psychiatric Services