Friday, October 25, 2013

Mental health crisis makes the news from coast to coast

Allison Kilkenny wrote in The Nation on Oct. 21 about the rise in suicides and other mental health crises spawned by budget cuts:
Threats of sequestration in 2013 had a significant impact on people’s ability to access mental health services and programs, including children’s mental health services, suicide prevention programs, homeless outreach programs, substance abuse treatment programs, housing and employment assistance, health research, and virtually every type of public mental health support. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) claimed it alone would be cutting $168 million from its 2013 spending, including a reduction of $83.1 million in grants for substance abuse treatment programs.
And here's the news from Chicago:
In Chicago alone, state budget cuts combined with reductions in county and city mental health services led to shutting six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics, Forbes reports.
What's the matter with Kansas:
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently released a startling report showing a 30 percent increase in suicides from 2011.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the largest increase in suicides in Kansas occurred among white males, who already were the segment of the population most likely to take their own lives. More than 80 percent of suicides in Kansas last year were men.
And what about Wyoming? Well, a chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has been holding organizational meetings in Cheyenne. Look up NAMI Cheyenne on Facebook. Get more info by e-mailing

Neat staff editorial in the Casper Star-Tribune on Wednesday. It examined the sad story of a young schizophrenic teen, Sally Levin, who was killed by her father in 1937 Cheyenne. It was a suicide pact gone awry. The father shot and killed his daughter to allegedly put her out of her misery, but his self-inflicted wounds were not fatal. Once he recovered, the family moved away to California and the incident was lost to history. Almost.

Suzanne Handler heard about her grandfather's story, investigated and recently published a book on it, “The Secrets They Kept: The True Story of a Mercy Killing That Shocked a Town and Shamed a Family.”

So has has mental health treatment in Wyoming improved over the last 76 years?
Despite the creation of treatment centers in regions of the state and school-based counseling, the need for treatment in Wyoming’s small towns can be largely unmet due to rural health care challenges.

All counties in Wyoming are geographically designated mental health services shortage areas.


In 2011-12 the Annie E. Casey Foundation identified 22,000 Wyoming children, 18 percent, as “Children ages 2 to 17 with a parent who reports that a doctor has told them their child has autism, developmental delays, depression or anxiety, ADD/ADHD, or behavioral/conduct problems.”
We still have a long way to go.

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