February 24, 2016
Dear Letter to Editor:
As if his illness were not damaging enough, publicity around an unfortunate photo of former Celtics star Delonte West, who is clearly challenged by his mental illness, is now coloring the way his family, friends and fans view him.
The recent Globe article (2/22/16), “Delonte West appears to have fallen on hard times,” followed a misguided, misinformed narrative that is regrettably entwined with mental illness.
The fact is, one in four adults will experience a mental illness in a given year. It’s not their fault and they should not be held in contempt because they are sick. Mental illness is indiscriminate in the way it finds people and ravages their lives. We know that recovery from mental illness is possible with treatment, but far too many never seek the help they need because of the stigma that surrounds the illness.
We need to talk openly about mental illness and treat it with compassion, as we do other serious illnesses. When we label people who are suffering as delinquents, cautionary tales and lost causes we are only perpetuating the problem.
by Joseph Gianinno, NAMI Mass Legislative Director
Governor Baker released his FY 2017 state budget proposal last week. He proposes to fund the Department of Mental Health (DMH) at $761M, a $20.6M (+3%) increase above FY16. DMH provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of adults with severe mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbance enabling them to live, work and participate in their communities. The agency provides community-based and continuing-care inpatient services for approximately 29,000 individuals throughout the state.
DMH Budget Highlights
• $13M to fund 45 treatment beds at Taunton State Hospital for women who are civilly committed for substance use and co-occurring disorders. 15 beds operational in FY16 and 30 more beds in FY17.
• $1M increase in Adult Community-Based Services to increase adult community-based services and supports in the Southeast region.
• $1M increase to provide 4 low-threshold housing and support Homelessness programs for 34 individuals in: Metro Boston (2), Worcester (1) and Springfield (1).
• Prioritized funding for opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts, including 2,150 residential recovery treatment beds.
• $140.6M in total opioid-related spending at DPH, a $24.07m (+21%) increase above FY16 GAA. This figure includes Chapter 257 rates to strengthen and support residential rehabilitation treatment bed capacity.
So now that the Governor’s budget has been released, next step in the process is the House Ways and Means Committee’s release of their budget sometime in mid-April. Discussions and considerations will abound, both in the view of the public and behind closed State House doors. Much of this will directly impact the DMH Budget.
Advocates, citizens, lobbyists, state agencies, trade unions, industry groups, non-profit organizations and the like are also part of the budget process. They can and do meet with and contact our elected officials (or their staffs) to share and advocate/lobby for their budget priorities throughout the budget process. NAMI Mass has been and continues to be a respected and consistent voice on Beacon Hill, but your input and help matters. So please stay tuned for additional updates and of course, plan to attend NAMI Mass’ Lobby Day 2016 on April 8th at the State House. Congressman Joe Kennedy III will be our keynote speaker.