FY 2013 Budget Misses Opportunity to Prioritize Mental Health Needs
Statement by David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of
Mental Health America
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (February 27, 2012)—“President Obama’s FY 2013 Budget misses an opportunity to prioritize mental health needs by proposing potentially dangerous cuts to vital programs and level-funding important public health initiatives. The administration’s budget proposes to cut funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) by nearly $200 million, including roughly a cut of $50 million to the Center for Mental Health Services, a nearly $60 million cut to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and roughly a cut of $70 million to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
“We applaud SAMHSA for prioritizing prevention, early intervention, integration of behavioral health with general health and support for military families in their strategic plan for 2012. However, a budget that proposes a cut of this magnitude – at a time when states have been forced to cut their mental health budgets by a combined total of nearly $4.3 billion over the last 3 years – will undoubtedly hamstring any capacity to reach these laudable goals.
“While MHA recognizes the pressures the administration faces to address the budget deficits, it is shortsighted to cut funding for mental health and addiction services and supports during an economic crisis. Suicide rates predictably increase during economic downturns with access to services being further compromised by strapped state budgets. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of these vital programs. It is in our national interest to restore and expand public health programs that keep Americans healthy and ultimately reduce health costs and improve economic productivity.
“Public health programs have already borne more than their fair share of the burden for deficit reduction—with two straight years of public health funding cuts, including those required under the Budget Control Act, and a looming sequester that will cut even deeper. Public health programs make up only a fraction of all federal spending and they are essential for the economy’s overall health and our national recovery. Reducing these expenditures typically pushes the burden of caring for people with mental illnesses and addictions into other human service arenas including local jails and prisons. They comprise a tiny fraction of our federal deficit and their cuts only further depress the economy.
“We are disappointed with the Administration’s FY13 request for SAMHSA. Although the administration’s budget would level-fund the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institutes for Mental Health, Drug Abuse and Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, we are troubled with cuts to other public health initiatives such as the Prevention and Public Health Fund. We understand that the administration’s budget simply begins the budget process and MHA pledges to work with Congress and our affiliates to reject these and all proposed cuts to vital behavioral health supports and services.”
Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.