Mental health has been a priority throughout the pandemic.
And as the demand for services increased, nonprofits that treat people with mental health problems and addiction problems hoped for an increase in the state budget.
That didn’t happen.
“It’s just a tremendous injustice. This budget is a tremendous injustice, ”said Gary Steck, Wellmore CEO.
Steck says he was very sad when he saw the budget vote and didn’t know what to say to his staff.
“How can I look them straight in the face and say you’re getting a $ 15 raise a week without getting paid to be there day in and day out? How can I do that?” Remember that during Covid you saw people face to face with people, it didn’t matter – it had to happen, otherwise people would have died, “says Steck.
The demand for mental health treatments and substance use has increased during the pandemic.
“So we have a crisis. And we thought we were close to a solution, but instead of going through a budget that increased funding for all nonprofits, as the grants committee recommended, the funds were instead directed to vendors who had to settle strike action, “said Heather Gates, President and CEO of Community Health Resources.
Mental health advocates say the staff at these organizations clearly deserved top-ups, but not at the expense of other providers.
“It is just unacceptable to forego treatment for people with mental health problems and drug problems when the state has so many resources,” said Gates.
Senate President Martin Looney says they are looking for money to solve the problem.
“We know they have long been underfunded, and we’re trying to find a way to increase that funding because we know there are years of catching up,” Looney said.
Gian Carl Casa, head of The Alliance, hopes lawmakers will solve the problem in the next few days.
“We hope this is an oversight. That this is more of a mistake than a decision and will be corrected when the legislature comes this week to finalize the transposition language, ”said Casa.
According to Casa, lawmakers plan to allocate $ 30 million in federal funding to nonprofits over the next three years, but there’s no indication of how that money will be distributed.
Looney says he cannot confirm this as they are still in discussions about it.