Supporters push to restore millions for mental health funding

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts made dramatic cuts to mental health funding five years ago. With more inpatient psychiatric units shutting down, people fear there will soon be no where left to go.

There is a high demand for psychiatric care in Massachusetts, but funding for treatment services is dwindling.

“The reimbursement rates are so low that so many hospitals cannot afford to keep their psychiatric beds open,” said Laurie Martinelli of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts.

$55 million of mental health funding was cut between 2009 and 2012, causing some psychiatric units to shut down completely. Mothers from across the state can’t even find an open inpatient psychiatric bed leaving their children in need of help to wait it out.

“There’s just a huge shortage of beds. For example, the last hospital, they had one bed available and there were 20 kids vying for a position at that hospital basically,” said Linette Murphy, who’s daughter has been waiting eighteen days for a bed.

The National Alliance on Mental Health of Massachusetts is asking the state for an increase of $13 million to MassHealth’s budget, so hospitals can provide more inpatient psychiatric beds and treatment services. The $13 million in additional funding would provide better access to psychiatric care, improve the quality of care and decrease wait times.

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