Friday, June 23, 2006

Letter From Cathy

Hello friends & fellow MH and disabilities may be interested in this email I just received from Cathy Cox, Georgia's Secretary of State, who is a candidate for governor. Please feel free to share it with others who may be interested in knowing her point of view.
Kristina Simms
NAMI member, mental health advocate
Perry GA
Thank you, Tina, for your support. I greatly appreciate your advocacy for people with mental illness and other disabilities. Like you, I believe in a strong community mental health system. Coming from Bainbridge, which formerly served as home to one of state’s institutional mental retardation facilities, I understand the importance of moving institutional resources to the community while still ensuring that we maintain the important safety net that hospitals afford our consumers and their families. I have helped families and advocates transition many consumers to community settings and supported increased resources through facility downsizing. Those kinds of transitions make sense and can be effective – if the resources do in fact follow and stay with the consumers.

Tragically, over the past four years, the resources coming to the community mental health system have been slashed. Now, we have neither the resources to support consumers in the community nor the institutional services to intervene when crises do occur. Forcing our mental health and substance abuse consumers into a medically-oriented managed care system may further fragment services. The criminal justice system is fast becoming the “front door” for services for our citizens with mental illness – and this approach is totally wrong.

The recent symposium at the Carter Center highlighted that the state of Georgia ranks 43rd nationally in per capita expenditures for mental health services. A gap analysis conducted by the state’s own vendor found that Georgia’s system was serving only 20% to 40% of those citizens who need mental health services. And, the children’s mental health system is in total disarray.

A strong, adequately funded community mental health system with an appropriate array of hospital services must be provided for Georgia’s families and consumers. The community mental health system must be built as a seamless partnership of public and private providers to be successful. We need to direct our resources to services, versus management contracts and out-of-state for-profit companies. And, we need to have a firm vision of leadership and parity for our citizens with disabilities. President Bush’s New Freedom Commission outlines many strategies to improve state mental health systems. Should Georgia have anything less than the best for our citizens? The current administration has treated the mental health system as an after-thought – or worse a piggy-bank to be raided. On my watch, we will work to shore up the resources in the mental health illness, involve families, consumers and communities in leading systems’ change, and focus on services and results that promote recovery, parity, access to care, work, and stability. Thank you for giving me a chance to provide my views on this critical issue for our state. Please feel free to share it with any friends you think may be interested in my position.

Cathy Cox

1 comment:

Button Gwinnett said...

This is just one of many reasons why I support Cathy Cox. Last year, I heard her speak to some mental health advocates that were concerned above the state budget cuts. She was extremely knowledgable about the situation. She even knew that people needing an evaluation for mental health or drug/alcohol reasons in Coweta Co. were having to be sent to a facility in Savannah for the evaluation - which sometimes doesn't even last a day. The sheriff deputies having to transport these people were having to spend up to 10 hours on the road plus the time to check the person in to perform this job. Depending on the danger level or the health risk, it sometimes required 2 deputies to do this job. And it was creating a strain on the Coweta Co. Sheriff Dept. just to keep this process in place.

These people used to get sent to a facility, much closer to Newnan, in Columbus. And it's not just Coweta Co. that faces this problem either. Emergency receving closures have affected numerous counties in such a way around the state.

The people who voted in favor of such budget cuts should be ashamed of themselves. And Cathy is the only candidate for governor who talks bout this serious problem.