The Norman Transcript

Headlines

January 24, 2013

After shootings, states rethink mental health cuts

DES MOINES, Iowa — Dozens of states have slashed spending on mental health care over the last four years, driven by the recession’s toll on revenue and, in some cases, a new zeal to shrink government.

But that trend may be heading for a U-turn in 2013 after last year’s shooting rampages by two mentally disturbed gunmen.

The reversal is especially jarring in statehouses dominated by conservative Republicans, who aggressively cut welfare programs but now find themselves caught in a crosscurrent of pressures involving gun control, public safety and health care for millions of disadvantaged Americans.

In many states, lawmakers have begun to recognize that their cuts “may have gone too deep,” said Shelley Chandler, executive director of the Iowa Alliance of Community Providers.

About 30 states have reduced mental health spending since 2008, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In a third of those states, the cuts surpassed 10 percent.

As a result, nine state-run psychiatric hospitals were closed and another 3,200 beds for mental health patients were eliminated, dramatically reducing treatment options for the poor and people in the criminal-justice system.

The cuts came as unemployment was rising, causing more people to lose private insurance and forcing them to shift to public assistance.

The steepest drop by percentage was in South Carolina, where spending fell by nearly 40 percent over four years — an amount that Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has called “absolutely immoral.”

Now Haley, who took office in 2011, has pledged to bolster a mental health system that dropped case workers, closed treatment centers and extended waiting lists.

Both Pennsylvania and Utah have put aside plans to scale back their mental health systems. And Kansas announced this month a new $10 million program aimed at identifying mental health dangers.

The sudden pause reflects anxiety from last year’s shootings in a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school. Although little is known about the mental health of either gunman, the attacks have shaken state legislatures that until recently didn’t intend to consider more social spending. In some cases, gun-rights advocates are seeking mental health reforms as an alternative to more gun laws.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Body 1 Police identify woman found dead Monday

    Norman police have identified a woman found dead in her home at 2202 Donna Drive Monday afternoon. Police responded at 1:25 p.m. to the residence of Cassandra Thompson, 30, after receiving a report that she had not shown up for work ...

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Residents speak out about document regarding shelter photos

    Norman and metro-area residents showed up in overwhelming numbers, many in red shirts, for an Animal Shelter Oversight Board meeting Monday night demanding for their opinions to be heard....

    July 29, 2014

  • Mixon’s attorney says athlete acted in self-defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense. “This past Friday morning, Joe Mixon found himself in a situation ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Police rule out homicide in Norman woman’s death

    Norman Police Capt. Todd Gibson said Tuesday they have eliminated the theory of homicide after a Norman woman was found dead in her home Monday afternoon. “We’re moving in a different direction with the investigation,” Gibson said. “It’s ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Moore resident lands in new home 14 months after tornado

    Moore — She crawled from the rubble of what used to be her home. The neighborhood was destroyed. It was the afternoon of May 20, 2013, and Jamie Baker was homeless....

    July 30, 2014

  • Additional details come to light in Campus Corner incident involving Sooner recruit

    The 911 call from Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning brought forth more details from the incident that has Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon under investigation for an alleged assault....

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate approves new VA secretary

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Shelter construction ongoing; residents voice concerns

    A regular quarterly meeting of the Animal Shelter Oversight Board prompted Norman residents to speak up about more than just a photo release issue Monday night involving Friends of the Animals of Norman volunteers and the city of Norman. ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate passes highway bill, sends it to House

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued ...

    July 30, 2014