On the issue of declining public mental health funds, Lacey Berumen, executive director of the Colorado chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said, "It is what it is.
We do the best that we can with what we have and what we have seems to be a shrinking pot of resources."
For the seriously mentally ill, these budget cuts translate to drastic reductions in services.
Per additional alliance data, Colorado state mental hospitals have consistently trimmed inpatient capacity, treating nearly 800 less patients in 2009 than in 2007.
In 2010, budgets forced the Mental Health Institute at Ft. Logan
to eliminate its children's, adolescent, and geriatric wards.
According to Berumen, when all 50 states and Washington, D.C. are ranked in terms of available inpatient capacity relative to demand, Colorado places 51st or dead last.
In other words, Colorado has the greatest amount of residents who need inpatient care but aren't able to get treatment from state facilities.
Berumen also said that at the Mental Health Center of Denver
, the designated mental health provider for Medicaid, 14 patients are turned away for every one treated.
This lack of inpatient services, said Berumen, ultimately leads to a greater burden on the corrections system.
"When there was a decrease in mental health funding, there was an increase in incarceration.
We close the facilities, we decrease funding, and we turn around and increase corrections funding so we have a place to put people," Berumen said.
By Lacey Berumen
Berumen is executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Colorado.
If you are a veteran or are interested in veteran's issues, NAMI Colorado is looking for a state representative and an alternate to the national NAMI Veterans and Military Council (NVMC). Please see the attachment about this council. Resumes must be sent to Lacey Berumen, Executive Director of NAMI Colorado: firstname.lastname@example.org. Representatives must be approved by the NAMI Co.