May 25, 2010; Source: Kaiser Health News | In Kansas, the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has announced a suspension of voluntary admissions of mentally ill people to hospitals. There are three hospitals in the state and all are over capacity right now. Ray Dalton, SRS deputy secretary of disability and behavioral health services says they do not know what has caused the recent “spike in admissions” but Mike Hammond, of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, said the increase is not an enormous surprise. “No one can say they didn’t see this coming. You can’t take $30 million out of the system and not expect something like this.” The $30 million is the reduction in budget to the state’s 27 mental health centers over the past three years. They have, as a result, had to reduce staff and restrict access to community-based services. Hammond says that as fewer services are available to people experiencing problems, a percentage will “decompensate to a point of being in crisis” and warrant hospitalization. So where will folk in need go now? It is no hyperbole to say to the streets and in to jail. In the case of the chronically mentally ill, when you squeeze one point in the system, unthinkable things happen elsewhere. A number of service and advocacy groups are considering a lawsuit.—Ruth McCambridge
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