Minnesota Senator Kathy Sheran is supporting mental health groups who are concerned about Republican-proposed cuts to children’s mental health care programs. Some of the cut are complete eliminations says Senator Sheran, and will effect not just the poor, but all children no matter what their income level.
Senator Sheran told reporters today:
“When You hear someone talking about mental health issues, sometimes you’ll hear the language, you know, someone has these ‘issues’. They have an anger issue, or they have an impulse control issue. And we always talk about issues. Well, I believe there are a number of issues in the Senate majority that they need to deal with as they approach their budget. And one of the issues that they have is that they seem to be using a lot of phony numbers to put together a budget bill that they’re calling an ‘all-cuts’ budget bill. And even within the context of that they’re able to justify significant cuts. Not only cuts, but what are elimination. If they were in the school system putting together a budget like this, we would give them remedial education in mathematics.
“Another issue that I see clearly in the existing majority is that they have very poor impulse control. The impulse control is the issue we see in mental health problems. It has to do with wanting short term gain, immediate gratification to what the need is without consideration of the long term consequences. And you’ve heard a number of people here talking today about the long term consequences of the short-term gains that come from phonying up numbers and from putting an all-cuts budget together. There are significant long term consequences to this budget that will cost everybody in this state a great deal of money.
The bias against mental health
“We also see as an issue a bias against mental health. These are eliminations of programs. And traditionally, even prior to these cuts, the treatment of mental health as an issue among all medical problems has always been discriminated against. We were already struggling against a bias for mental health programming. And we had done statewide planning to try to resolve some of the issues — to cut down the costs, to get people out of the state institutions and put them in community based programs to help people with chronic diseases, like diabetes and mental health issues, to have the appropriate community support services that they need. And these cuts relate some of the very important screening programs that allow us to recognize those physiological reflections through behavior of real medical problems that we could intervene in. But without these… with cuts to these programs we will not be able to engage in those, and (therefor) drive up the costs of health care.
“I have another of other issues I could probably could talk about here. But mostly I want you to recognize that without your help as the media in getting out the messages about this, the general public really doesn’t understand what’s happening with these cuts. I don’t feel it when I go to my town hall meetings. They don’t recognize the implications in their lives. And we are somehow unable to break this kind of huge capitol wall here and get out and help people understand the true implications of what is being proposed. And it’s not that we’re going to have to suffer cuts, but they ought to be fair and distributed, rather than eliminations of whole programs and whole options available to a very specific population of people that struggle with a very specific medical problem. Thank you.”
Sue Abderholden, MPH, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota (NAMI):
“Thank you everybody for coming and I want to answer any questions. One thing we were told is that these bills would protect the vulnerable, you know the elderly and children. They are not protecting children with mental illnesses. This is discriminating against this group of children and I really want you to make sure that you recognize that and know that. The other thing that I want to mention as well is in the school-link-to-mental-health-services, you are also now denying access to important treatment options for families who have private insurance. If these funds go away, these projects are not going to be able to remain in the schools. And so this impacts not just children who are poor, but also all children of any income level won’t have the service available. So I think this is a pretty horrendous budget that’s being proposed and it will definitely hurt kids. ”