Forum to discuss proposed State cuts to emergency mental health programs
September 24, 2008Forum to discuss proposed State cuts to emergency mental health programs
Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday September 30
Evergreen Behavioral Services and Franklin Community Health Network are hosting a community meeting concerning the impact of State budget cuts to the emergency mental health programs for Franklin County. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 30, from 7:30-9 a.m. in the Ben Franklin Center at Franklin Memorial Hospital. Anyone is welcome to attend.
Emergency mental health services include immediate crisis-oriented evaluation and treatment to individuals, including children and adults, with serious mental health problems including substance abuse. Services are provided through mobile outreach and at sites such as the Franklin Memorial Emergency Department. “The Franklin County program serves approximately 900 individuals per year,” according to April Guagenti, executive director of Evergreen Behavioral Services. “The crisis team that includes a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and qualified mental health crisis workers, receives an annual grant from the State of about $244,000 to subsidize the program that operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.”
The implementation of budget cuts targeting emergency mental health programs will have a negative effect on rural areas such as Franklin County says Guagenti. The legislation requires the statewide reduction in costs by consolidating programs and eliminating duplication of services in Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. Franklin County residents fear that management and access to critical services will be centralized to the more populated Androscoggin County leaving more rural areas to deal with a shortage of local resources.
“Reducing or eliminating the program will have a devastating effect on the community. Emergency room providers, law enforcement, and schools have relied on Evergreen staff to deal with many complicated and critical issues in the past 14 years. The community trusts our psychiatrist and crisis workers to stabilize situations and help people get back into the community safely with local providers to treat them,” said Guagenti.
Other local programs such as Seniors Plus, and AWAP have centralized services in Androscoggin County due to economic cutbacks, which result in limited or lack of services for Franklin County.
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