Mental health needs resources
Re: Jennifer FauntLeRoy’s letter, I totally agree with her; sufficient state funding for mental health care is critical.
I worked for New Hampshire State Hospital for 10-plus years in support services. When I arrived in 2002, New Hampshire hospital had plenty of funds for operations, but not for expansion. Patient census had been growing, but the hospital was able to handle it.
By 2008, funds for operations were drying up, budget cuts were deep, beds were lost, statewide emergency rooms slowly began filling with mentally ill patients they didn’t have the proper staff or equipment to treat. As the state’s community health centers were closed, the pressure began building on the state hospital.
Suddenly, there was a waiting list for admission. Health care personnel were put at risk. Then there were a couple of high-profile events involving former patients, and the local newspaper picked up the baton and published some front-page articles. Suddenly, the Legislature changed course and the money began flowing in to expand beds. The number of mentally ill patients waiting for admission across the state started to be monitored by the elected officials.
It is a work in progress, but progress is being made. I hope it doesn’t take a high-profile tragic event to jump-start Vermont’s Legislature into action. There are plenty of needy places to spend our tax money, I only hope mental health moves a few rungs up that priority ladder.