Lawmakers Explore Mental Health Cuts

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Lawmakers Explore Mental Health Cuts


Dave Parker

The Nevada Legislative Building in Carson City.


Since Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced his budget proposal, mental health cuts haven't gotten as much attention as his other proposals like cutting education.

The Governor wants to make a series of cuts to health and human services. But HHS director Mike Willden says he's going to lobby lawmakers to undo some cuts to mental health.

Governor Sandoval proposes getting rid of mental health outreach for seniors statewide, eliminating a program that pairs police with social workers in Northern Nevada, reducing the number of beds in mental hospitals and cutting funding for mental health medication.

The state would also stop paying for mental health court, telling counties they can pick up that tab.

Mark Burchell is president of the Nevada chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He tried to impress upon lawmakers how critical mental health court is by sharing his experience with it.

Burchell: "People have said to me that it's saved their life and I believe them because without mental health court I wouldn't be here to talk to you. It got me completely out of jail and into a treatment program. That's where you belong."

Several other advocates argued that the cuts would not only make life worse for people who suffer from mental illness, but that many more of them would end up in jail or prison, costing the state more money in the long run.