Walter S. Smitson is president and CEO of Central Clinic and a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Hamilton County voters have been very generous in supporting services for the mentally ill, beginning with the first mental health levy in 1980. The majority has shown they want best-practices mental health care that is accessible to all residents, with measurable outcomes that move people toward self-sufficiency. কিন্তু, this support is in jeopardy. As The Enquirer reported on July 29 (“Help at risk for the mentally ill”), the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee has recommended that property owners pay no more than they have in the past. That could mean a funding shortfall of $18 million over the next five years because property values have decreased. This lower level of funding will bring severe budget cuts to Central Clinic and other Hamilton County state-certified mental health agencies. That means reduced services for those who most need help.
সম্প্রতি, our mental health system of care for the uninsured is one in which everyone can take pride. Children under five years who need help to successfully enter kindergarten, foster children and their biological parents wanting to re-unify the family, persons involved in the criminal justice system struggling with problems of addiction and mental illness, adults with mental disorders and others with major mental illnesses can all access professionally licensed clinicians. This system has created a community that ensures its members who are struggling with mental illness have the care they need to live in harmony in the community. Nearly every family has been touched with a child who is not achieving because of emotional barriers, an adult who is struggling with mental illness or a family that exploits and is destructive to its members. To face a future where many will now go without the help they need to live successfully in society is indeed bleak.
If there is no choice except to freeze the mental health levy, agencies such as Central Clinic will stretch the dollars as far as possible and will see as many people as possible until we can one day restore the cuts. মধ্যকাল, it is the responsibility of every voter to be informed about the impact of cuts. We all must ensure that our neighborhoods remain healthy and that we give help to all who struggle to succeed.