Opinion: Protecting the rich means short-changing mental health

Immacula Cann and Jacqueline Brunelle

Immacula Cann and Jacqueline Brunelle

Jacqueline Brunelle of Council 4 AFSCME was a vocational rehabilitation counselor at Southeastern Mental Health Authority and Immacula Cann of SEIU District 1199 was a nurse educator at Southwest Connecticut Mental Health and Addiction System. Both recently lost their jobs because of the budget cuts.

In January, President Obama challenged Republican lawmakers to “put your money where your mouth is” on the importance of mental health spending and reforms. We hope this might serve as a friendly reminder to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to reconsider the layoffs he’s announced for mental health workers like us at already short-staffed facilities that provide essential care to patients whose illnesses unfortunately make them a danger to themselves and others.

A report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness released in December 2012, three years after Sandy Hook, cited the considerable gap between “the great deal of rhetoric in recent years about the broken mental health system in America and the need to invest in services that work in helping people living with mental illness to recover and reach their full potential.”

As state workers whose agency provides care for individuals with acute mental health issues, we know first-hand what happens when the work force is cut: helpless people who depend upon state protection get lost in the shuffle. Often that leads to an increase in suicide, crime, homelessness, and increased medical complications — all painful and costly consequences that negatively impact our communities.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.


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