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Calif Mental Health Dollars Bypassing Mentally Ill PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hannah Dreier Associated Press   
Thursday, 02 August 2012 01:34

SACRAMENTO –As state mental health services have crumbled under budget cuts, tens of millions of dollars raised through a tax designed to help the mentally ill have gone to "wellness'' programs like horseback riding for teens and yoga classes for city workers. And that's by design.

Voters approved Proposition 63, the so-called "millionaire's tax,'' in 2004 to make up for decades of mental health cuts. The ballot summary said it would "expand services and develop innovative programs'' for the mentally ill and the text of the measure stipulated 20 percent of the funds would go to programs "effective in preventing mental illnesses from becoming severe'' and "reducing the duration of untreated severe mental illnesses.''

In 2007, the Department of Mental Health developed guidelines for counties and dictated that the 20 percent would go to help people who had never been diagnosed with mental illness or even shown any evidence of mental illness. The idea was to promote mental wellness, not just treat mental disorders.

Now, with money to help people diagnosed as mentally ill tighter than ever, some mental health advocates want the state Legislature to redirect that 20 percent into treatment programs.

Peter Mantas, former chairman of the Contra Costa County Mental Health Commission, said state officials violated the intent of the ballot measure.

"In the law, the money was to be focused on people with mental illness, not little boutique programs that made the county personnel feel good,'' said Mantas.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 August 2012 01:35