Millions in federal funds to help mental health services

Vice President Biden announced $100 million to increase access to Mental Health Services Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

According to a release from the Office of the Vice President, $50 million will be used from the Department of Health and Human Services to help Community Health Centers expand behavior health services. Another $50 million will come from the Department of Agriculture for the construction, expansion, or improvement of mental health facilities in rural areas over the next three years.

The funds will be available through a direct loan program and can be used to improve or construct mental health service facilities or to put in place tools such as telemedicine to expand access to mental health services at rural schools, community centers, hospitals and other community-based settings, according to the release.

That funding could help cash strapped mental health services in both Iowa and Illinois.

“I just know that priority has not been for a very long time, mental health,” said Joyce Morrison who has been a social worker for 30 years.

“Over the last twenty, I have just seen a steady decline in funding for mental health services and as I’ve seen that decline, I have seen one safety net after another disappear in our community,” said Morrison.

Morrison is the Director of Program Development at Vera French Community Mental Health Center in Davenport. She says 10,000 people use their services every year.

“While we offer a level of services, we really don’t have enough for the chronically and persistently mentally ill,” said Morrison.

She says they’ve lost funding for a program providing care to chronically mental ill patients who can’t afford it, their jail diversion program, and there has even been a loss in funding in psychiatric care for kids in the area.

“You just see a system kind of crumbling,” said Morrison.

And as far as mental health care for those in rural Iowa counties,

“Very limited services in our outlying or rural counties; many counties don’t even have a psychiatrist in the county for people to see,” she said.

And while Morrison says the $100 million to increase access to mental health services has benefits, she does have concerns.

“What I worry about is, how that money is going to be dispersed to the community mental health centers, how long will it take, how many hoops have to be jumped through, what kind of strings are going to be attached to that,” said Morrison.

Dr. David Deopere, President of Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health says while the Quad Cities mental health services are fairly comprehensive, there’s still an issue of funding.

“There’s an erosion of the funding for the publicly funded, seriously mental ill person,” said Deopere.

Hoping the $100 million announcement will help reverse that trend.

4 comments

  • WENDY

    While they do not meet the Medicaid definition of telemedicine they are often considered under the broad umbrella of telehealth services.

  • WENDY

    why are they loans,Department of Agriculture ..???? I see some deep pockets in this,and there only talking about the first 50..they government GAVE 50 million out for the new school. it takes a whole year, everyone with a mental illness who is waiting on reform is just what…looking at the stars…………..?????

  • priscilla bognanno

    as a former mental nurse at the former Trinity hospital robert youngcenter In rockIsland, illinoisIfelt there was already a need for more nurses and health care workers per shift per shift! when I retired from nursing!in 2009. Ifeel my father the fprevious yearjanuary 2008 at Iowa’s veterans nursing and long term care in marshalltown my fatherhad died from being snowed with lithium by healthcare workers inexperiencedand unqualified witth the drug I feel theyused it to control him!!! At robert ! then almost a year ago my brother suffered the sme fate At Robertyoung center a drug like that is never used Prn. I believe they thought it worked on his father let’s control him to death too! my father was not bipolar he suffered from a stroke!!My brother too suffered from stroke in one of them he lost his short term I feel sure memory problems are not really bipolar problems!!!!!!!!! my nephew Johnh. mcfadden III a grandson and a son of both respectively john H. mcfadden Sr and John H.mcfaddenJr. called me for advice and I said get them off that drug after each call!!!!! at each time he felt unprepared to seek a look into eachones’ medical history as I was also unprepared at the time of both deaths I was
    either working or suffering from my current stroke which I had had sept 7 2009 !

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