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Unfortunately for the Mental Health Community, Connecticut's Commissionioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Patricia Rehmer, Is Stepping Down. Of course, we cannot speak for the commissioner, but she must be simply exhausted.
She is leaving state service for the private sector. This is a great loss for the state mental health community. Understandably, Ms. Rehmer must be drained from having to fight non-stop over the past two years to keep adequate funding for her agency, and provide needed service to those who are so often discriminated against through no fault of their own. The fact that the governor repeatedly targeted the Dept of Mental Health for reduction in funding is evidence that he either has no real understanding of the needs in this area of health care, or he sees the agency as vulnerable and therefore an easy target. Is it possible that those with mental health and addiction problems are not equally valued in our society? Either way, it is discouraging and therefore understandable that this commissioner-- a caring, proactive, committed professional-- would not want to spend her energies in a defensive poster for the next four years. Given her efforts since 2009, and an abundance of evidence, one can safely conclude that Commissioner Rehmer would rather be proactive in solving the problems that her agency faces. Even the most energetic and committed person gets worn out fighting continually; this is debilitating and saps the energy needed to be productive in other areas vital to the successful administration of a service agency. However, fighting continuously is exactly what she has had to be doing to keep her agency providing adequate services.
Her departure is a great loss to a community that needs a strong advocate, and a loss to state government.
Read here what one set of mental health advocates wrote about Patricia Rehmer: http://cga.ct.gov/2015/exndata/tmy/2015SR-00017-R000205-Marcia%20Du...
According to an article in the CT Mirror:
"In recent years, Rehmer has tried to shield the treatment system from budget cuts imposed by lawmakers – in some cases, moving money around in the department’s budget to avoid service cuts.
In January 2013, weeks after the December 14, 2012, shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, Rehmer worked with the governor’s budget office to reverse plans to cut more than $7 million in funds from mental health and addiction programs. “We really can’t afford to hit the service system,”she said at the time. "State reversing mental health cuts-- for this year, at least."
Rehmer's department also avoided implementing $15.2 million in cuts slated for mental health and substance abuse treatment providers during the 2014 fiscal year, finding funds elsewhere in the agency budget. Last year, Rehmer presented legislators with an analysis showing that the $15.2 million cut, and another $10 million cut slated to take effect this fiscal year, would hurt the treatment system, with many providers unable to recoup the lost state funding. Legislators later restored funds, although not all of the money has come through."
OneWorld invites you to read more about what has been happening in the Dept of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the CT Mirror article linked below.
It is important that those of us not directly involved in the mental health community do not consider this "not our problem." As a society, we are all -- directly or indirectly -- affected by what happens in such a significant segment of our community. The health and well-being of many in our community affect the health and well-being of our entire community (maybe except for the one percenters). Please let us all pay attention; write to our elected representatives so that the Dept of Mental Health and Addiction Services will continue to be adequately funded. http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/15/rehmer-stepping-down-as-mental-healt...
Please bear in mind that a large percentage of the people in prison are people with mental health and addiction disorders. Many of our prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill and those who need addiction services. Our tax dollars are more efficiently spent of prevention and support services than of the expansion of prisons in our state and country.
Below are a few facts and figures to help us all to understand how important this is to our pocketbooks and our well-being as a society.
1. The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails: http://www.tacreports.org/storage/documents/treatment-behind-bars/t...
2. Nation's Prisons Becoming Modern-Day Asylums for Mentally Ill- http://www.newsmax.com/US/prison-mental-health-inmantes/2013/09/26/...
3. NC State Study Shows Why It Costs Less to Treat Mentally Ill Than Incarcerate Them: http://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2013/07/01/nc-state-study-sh...
4. How the Mentally Ill Are Being Warehoused in Prisons – http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/04/09/How-Mentally-Ill-...
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