You've probably heard. It's hard not to hear. Governments across the country are broke. Entire states are at risk of going bankrupt. And as a result lawmakers are carving local budgets to the bone in efforts to save themselves.
Sadly, some of the hardest hit citizens are those who work the hardest: the working poor. These are the people who have been most affected by the Great Recession and those who have found themselves victims of record-breaking unemployment.
Unfortunately, critical services that help the working poor are being slashed into nothingness. Many of these programs are health related, which can be devestating for those without insurance.
In Illinois, mental health services for the working poor are disappearing, with grave results:
“The responsibility for care has been shifting toward community health care centers, but the money has not followed,” Beyer said.
Medicaid, she said, often does not cover the cost of providing services to clients when they are eligible, and eligibility has been harder to achieve for others.
Proposed rate reductions to Medicaid, Beyer said, would make mental health services available only for people with the most severe cases of debilitating mental illness.
“In October 2010, the state drastically reduced services available to people without Medicaid,” said Beyer. “As a result of these limitations, we have been able to provide to primarily working poor people only 25 percent of the services we did before these rationings when into effect. Seventy-five percent of services to these people are gone.”
The working poor are precisely the demographic that Modest Needs serves, and with necessary social services disappearing, we will see more and more requests for basic health needs--including mental health assistance.
Mental health wellness is just as vital as physical wellness, though often our society doesn't see it that way. But if you've ever been saddled with depression or anxiety, you know it can be debilitating. And expensive, particularly if you to turn to professionals for help. We should be encouraging more individuals struggling with mental illness to shed their shame and step forward to recieve assistance, but with budget slashing all over the fifty states, this is an unlikely scenario.
Dealing with mental illness can be incredibly tough. That difficulty is only compounded when help is unaffordable or out of reach.
I anticipate we'll see more and more applications for help with mental health care costs in the coming weeks and months at Modest Needs. But I also anticipate that our community of dedicated donors will rise to the challenge of helping these individuals and families in their times of need.
If you have ever struggled with mental illness, slight or severe, or know someone who has, consider helping someone else in the same boat who has no where else to turn. You just might save their life.
[Photo by Alan Cleaver]