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Indiana may cut millions in funding for mental health, addiction services

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mental health and addiction services could lose millions of dollars under the state budget being considered at the Indiana Statehouse, according to Mental Health America of Indiana.

The organization says the need for those services is great due to the pandemic, which has taken a toll on a lot of people, especially those struggling with their mental health or addiction.

“We all know that substance use disorder has been exacerbated during COVID. We’re seeing record numbers of overdoses right now. We’re seeing record numbers of emergency department visits,” said Brandon George, vice president of Mental Health America of Indiana.

George and his organization has sounded an action alert about the proposed budget bill.

“As it sits right now, it looks like there’s going to be upwards of $26 million that’s being reduced from the substance use disorder budget, mental health budget and serious mental illness budget over the next 2 years,” said George.

Experts say the pandemic has taken a toll on Hoosiers and their mental health.

The Behavioral Health Department at Community Health Network said from July 2020 to January 2021, they saw a 131% increase in calls to Indiana’s Be Well Crisis Helpline.

“We all want to get people back to work. We want to open the economy back up. We want to do all of these things and those are really important. But without giving people the mental health help that they need, it’s going to set us back a ways,” said George.

George said there is still time for changes they’d like to see.

“The community has been really loud about the need to reinstate this money. Governor Holcomb and his office putting out a statement that they supported the reinstatement of this money. It really lies with the senators, specifically on appropriations right now,” said George. “I have confidence they will do the right thing and try to find a way to put that money back in, or a substantial amount.”

“The House budget plan takes into account significant increases in federal funding for mental health services, so state dollars can be stretched further to pay for other critical programs,” said State Rep. Tim Brown, a Republican from Crawfordsville. “For example, many of the expenses funded through the Recovery Works program have become Medicaid-eligible, meaning that we can use more federal funding as opposed to solely using state dollars. Additionally, Indiana was estimated to receive almost $60 million in federal stimulus across two programs, including the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, and Mental Health Block Grant. The expanded federal dollars for mental health will allow the state to continue its investment in mental health services across Indiana.”

The proposal passed the House of Representatives. It is now in the hands of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health or addiction, call 211 to be connected to the Indiana Be Well Crisis Helpline.

Resources

  • NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Be Well Indiana Crisis Helpline: 211
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

Indiana’s Next Level Recovery program

  • Call 211 for help 24/7 or click here to go to Connect2Help.
  • Call the Indiana Addiction Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit here to chat live with a representative.
  • Through a partnership between Indiana 211 and OpenBeds, people seeking treatment for substance use disorder can be immediately connected with available inpatient or residential treatment services.
  • The Indiana Recovery Network also has extensive available resources.

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