Mental health budget cuts could hurt the general public

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:12pm

Every time Keithville mother, Sandy Harris, hears about a school shooting, her heart goes out to the shooter's parents.

Her son was diagnosed with a mental illness years ago, and he knows how hard it has been for him to get the help he needs with that.

He has long been a part of the juvenile justice system for various charges, each one worst than the last.

He was recently sent to Swanson Juvenile Center in Monroe where his counselor told him he needed long term mental health care. Sadly, his counselor also told Harris that it would be impossible to get her son the necessary help because of budget cuts.

That worries Harris for two reasons. First, she wants her son to get the help he needs. Secondly, she worries for the general public. Her son has made threats on several of his schools, and she worries that one day he may follow through if he doesn't get the help he needs.

In 2012, Governor Jindal cut $523 million from state healthcare programs, and this year he eliminated a program for behavioral health in at risk youth.

In Caddo Parish alone, hundreds of children have been helped from the soon to be defunct program. It is so successful that 90% of the children from their mental health court stay out of state custody and only 1 in 5 children with mental health issues re-offend in that first year.

The Juvenile Justice System is still going to work hard to make sure that children get the help they need when it comes to mental health, they will just have to rely on other programs in the community to help them out.

But with budget cuts seeming to come every year, doing more with less seems to be a common phrase for public entities.

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