October 16th, 2009
Reports the Morning Call:
Advocates for a mental illness support organization that is facing a 75 percent funding cut from Lehigh County pleaded with commissioners to restore funding at a budget hearing Wednesday.
The local branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is facing a reduction of about $25,000, taking the county’s annual contribution to roughly $7,000 in 2010.
The organization helps people with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. The branch handles 500 calls per year, resource director Janet Bendics said.
NAMI’s local budget is roughly $70,000.
”This is a group families go to when they are in crisis,” Allentown psychiatrist Paul Gross said. ”If NAMI doesn’t exist, there will be a void.”
The mentally ill and their families often contact the organization when they are transitioned out of an institution or in severe need of assistance. The group offers educational classes and advocacy. Without support from NAMI, Gross said, the mentally ill can wind up wandering the streets, being violent or even committing suicide.
Commissioner Chairman Percy Dougherty said the cut is the direct result of the state budget.
”The county did not cut this money. The state is responsible for cutting the funding,” Dougherty said.
Find out more at the Morning Call.