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Southeastern mental health cutbacks

READ MORE: Southeastern Center's area director retiring
For some time now, Southeastern Center for Mental Health has been struggling financially. One local provider has seen the impact on his patients and caregivers alike. ACI Support is a mental health provider for the tri-county area. They receive referrals from Southeastern Mental Health. They said since Southeastern's financial problems, they have seen patients who depend on mental health and disability services being downright neglected. Melissa Morris, an ACI support specialist said, "There are chronically ill individuals who can function perfectly well day to day, as long as they have therapy, psychiatrist, and as long as they have access to their medication and have someone to check in on them." Morris said many developmentally disabled and mental health patients aren't getting the help they need, because of Southeastern's recent budget cuts. Mental health providers like ACI Support are feeling the Repercussions. Many employees have dedicated years of service to their patients. Randall Evans of ACI has seen the slide as well. "When you stop the service, then you just regress most of the time. And I hear from family members who have had to quit their jobs in order to take care of their family members." Typically, caregivers spend 20 to 30 hours a week with their patients, but since the cutbacks, those hours have dwindled. There are nearly 100 mental health agencies in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties. At ACI alone, 13 developmentally disabled clients have lost services since July, and 50 more additional clients are at risk of losing services come November 1st. Nearly 100 clients will see a reduction in services. And don't forget the employees who are being laid off. 50 ACI employees have had to file for unemployment. 35 others have had their hours drastically reduced. It’s the fear of losing employees, and clients losing services that keep Melissa Morris up at night. "My office is being affected the most, I worry that there will be lay offs, I worry that there will be pay cuts, and we are so close knit here, that it's like losing family members." To continue to provide adequate service, ACI is paying a doctor out of their own pocket to come in for two hours a week, to help clients with their prescriptions.

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We are STILL waiting for

We are STILL waiting for services after losing our long time worker for our ten year old severely autistic son. We went through the appeal process and got assigned a different kind of care and twice as many hours per week, but because they've cut back so much we can't find a decent trustworthy worker. Allotted hours don't mean a thing when you can't get a worker because they've cut the pay scale. As things are right now myself and my other two teen children pretty much just deal with it all ourselves (my husband works), and we manage as best we can with the aggression and the poopy diapers and destruction to our home and property. What choice do we have? He's usually a good boy but he has regressed so much since we lost our worker over two months ago that it will probably take a year to recover once we finally find a new one. And our son is just mentally disabled. I can't begin to imagine what the folks with physically disabled children are going through...

Get yourself help

have you tried to reach out to any of the many organizations in our town that could help YOU gain the special parenting skills to learn to handle your son?

bbrt, if you know of any,

bbrt, if you know of any, please post them here.

I think I see the problem

"There are nearly 100 mental health agencies in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties." Any wonder why they blew through last year's budget? Perhaps if this wasn't a growing industry that everyone wants to cash in on and we had a more reasonable number of treatment facilities, the cost could be reduced substantially.

It cost b/w $25,000 and

It cost b/w $25,000 and $80,000 per year to house an inmate, depending on the state. You could have a Mentally Ill person live beside you or near you without treatment break in your house hurt you or kill you maybe & they suffer natural consequences and go to jail because YOU said it was a made up illness and they are just weak. Now, you are wounded or dead and you still have to cough up major dollars to pay for his incarceration. You WILL pay one way or the other, so treat them, it is usually cheaper by far. Or you could move to an island and start a new country yourself genius, unless you are so naive you believe you can change everything in this country. Grow up!

Been there, done that

One of the supposed "menatlly ill" DID break into my house, a meth addict. (Prime cadidate for a Southeastern referral!) He was being booked in less than a half-hour. The dope forgot to break into an UNOCCUPIED house, and then made the near fatal mistake of picking the wrong house. Unlike you, I reject the blackmail argument, that one way or another, we HAVE to pay out big bucks for these people. For the addicted/criminal, three squares and a bunk shouldn't break the budget. Perhaps if we make prison an ungodly hell-hole that no one wants to return to, it would reduce the recidivism rate? For the truly mentally ill (Manic-Depression, Schzophrenia, et al) I have no problem with treating them when their families cannot. When I watched that girl on Frontline describe how people were putting Kryptonite in her coffee to kill her, I would have paid for the lithium shot out of my wallet right on the spot. The problem that you all want to deny is that "mental illness" has been expanded to include absolute nonsense that is in no way, shape, or form the responsibility of taxpayers. (But it sure is making life great for tho$e ca$hing in!) Being a drunken, homeless bum on the streets doesn't make you mentally ill - it makes you a drunk. How about pre-surgical gender reassignment counselling? Should the taxpayers have to pay for that crap-pola? Quitting smoking? Getting off drugs? Amazing that while we're working so hard to get some people OFF drugs, we are training others to beleive that their happiness depends upon them. How long do we hand out Paxil and Wellbutrin before we say, "You're a spolied little brat who simply refuses to accept that life isn't a non-stop carnival of romance, intrigue, and excitement. Get over it!" I've spent over twenty years of my life in some educational endeavor or another. The most valuable lessons I ever learned however, came during thirteen weeks in the Summer of 1970, at Parris Island, SC. Thanks to three dedicated sadists wearing Smokey the Bear hats, I learned that every aspect of my life is what I make it. I am responsible for doing the right thing even when no one is looking. I alone am responsible for my actions. Sometimes, life doesn't go my way and I don't always get what I want. Sometimes life can really suck, and it's *MY* job to figure out how to make it un-suck. (Here's the most important one) EVERYONE encounters obstacles in their life. You get over them, you get around them, you tunnel under them, but whatever you do you get PAST the obstacle and proceed to accomplish your mission. If you don't, you've lost. I fully understand that all of those lessons are lost on the TRULY mentally ill. A good portion of Southeastern's referrals simply choose to ignore those lessons, reject any form of individual responsibility, and want the taxpayer to make their life peachy-keen. Those cases need a kick in the rear far more than they need to be coddled.

Amen to you!!!!!!!! Now...

Amen to you!!!!!!!! Now... let's talk about that joke they call Drug Court.

"a good portion of SE referrals simply choose.....

Look, you must be an expert mind reader or at least trained in telepathy. So, u know, know a good portion of referral igonore the lessons of life u described. Here is a sure fire solution to all of this, you should be the screener and the assessing doctor and u would save everyone a whole lot of $$, wasted time and all of this headache mental health is in now. I've never heard of things made so simple. Truly amazing. I thought i was going to go this response u wrote & read something profound. And u simply just told me you were older than 23. Okay, u admitted once again there are some ligitimate consumers of services with particular diagnosis, good we've got u to talk yourself into that much. Careful ur backing into a corner! Believe it or not, a few more post and i will have u right where i knew u would go. Just wait, when u finally agree with me or accept at some point that it took 60+ yrs to make these programs, prisons and laws governing them, i will have u realizing like a lightbulb dropping on hard on your head that there is gray no matter how much u want black & white.

Trevor, Trevor, Trevor....

What happened to ignoring me? Do you not have the willpower or backbone to stand by your convictions? Do you not back up what you say? I'm beginning to think that you likely need a referral yourself.... ...but good luck in your future whining.


I simply scared you into saying anything you believe so you went with an insult. Yep, one more post where you actually explain your philosophy on this issue and you would have been proven wrong. It's best you don't say too much else being i've spotted your confused ignorance. And by the way, whining is what you have been doing this entire time because your commonsense self just can't figure out how not to pay for these folks with your tax $$. I'll conclude by pretending you responded intelligently. Conclusion: You will pay, you will continue to cry about it and then you will continue to pay and then you will explain how we can get out of not paying and then you will pay and then 5 years from now..... you will still be paying. Sorry, but you will be paying. Okay i'll go get a referral now so you can pay some more. Sucker!!

You are wrong!

No, you don't see. The number of people who have a disability or mental illness does not change because there is a company. Southeastern screens, companies can't create Downes Syndrome.

Downes Syndrome

Care to estimate the number of patients in the three-county area with Downes Sydrome or any other form of mental retardation? Then please explain how that low a number requires nearly one-hundred facilities. The vast majority of "patients" these facilities are serving need a size ten judiciously applied to their butts far more than they need counseling and happy pills. Agencies don't get paid simply because they exist.

The number of companies does not produce the need. The referrals come from Southeastern after they screen them. I'll say again, Companies don't create Disablities, Mental Illness or new services from the state. If there were two companies, they would simply be large companies. Let us just say there were 1,000 consumers, that would mean 500 for each company. It's called "provider choice", the more companies to choose to get your services the better your chances are for getting quality care.

That's a load of bovine droppings

There is absolutely no need to have that many mental health facilities in three counties unless the three county area has the highest per capita rate of mental illness in the universe. A half dozen larger facilities could operate much more efficiently, at far less cost. As I said earlier, "mental health" is a growing industry and everyone wants to cash in on it. When your son tells you to go to blazes, he's not just a rotten kid, he's "mentally ill." Drunks and druggies aren't simply undisciplined slobs, they "need counseling." Jeez, if you want to quit smoking, there's a counselor standing by to help you. Heaven forbid you simply grow a backbone, gut through it, and simply quit smoking! The simple fact is that the explosion in mental health facilities in this nation has far less to do with patient care than it has to do with cashing in and collecting big bucks from the state and insurance companies. All it took was selling the idea that the whole world needs counseling. We've also created gainful employment for the tens of thousands of Psych majors we graduate every year (because it was an easy degree and left plenty of time for partying). No one can POSSIBLY make it through life without a counselor and a handful of SSRIs. I fully understand that several of these facilities offer very valuable assistance to children and adults suffering varying degrees of mental retardation. That does not negate the fact that reducing the number of facilities and consolidating their operations would be far more efficient and merciful to the taxpayers, even if less convenient to a handful of patients.

What are you talking about??

What are you talking about?? The 100 private agencies are private agencies. You are really confused. There is one mental health center for 3 counties. The private agencies are just there, like any other private business. No wonder you are so angry. No, taxpayers have nothing to do with a private business. I am very fiscally conservative and would be outraged also if what you were saying was the case. Not one tax dollar has opened a private agency. Again, there is one mental health screener of services. If that screener does not deem services are necessary then the private agency does not get a referral. Understand?

Do you have amnesia?

Do you not recall Southeastern Center for Mental Health blowing through their budget by 33% last year, to the tune of $4 million? Where do you think all that money went? To the nearly 100 growing concerns that are cashing in on the "everyone needs help" craze. Of course no taxpayer dollars OPENED them, but $12 million taxpayer dollars funded them. If the screening agency was not cutting referrals at a ridiculous rate, for ridiculous reasons, half of them would be in Chapter 7. This very story is about the gravy train running dry.

One more time!

Okay. If there were two provider agencies...not i see that didn't sink in. Okay follow me here, please. Each consumer of services could be an agency. An agency is a middle man. If comsumers knew where and how to get the help they needed they would not need an agency, correct? Okay now, the service(help) is paid for by tax dollars, that rate would be given to the consumer to go and see a psychiatrist, therapist, whoever. So, what you pay did not really change. Where the change would be is the reimbursement would be reset because no middle man would be needed and the tax payer would pay a little less taxes. Please tell me you got it now. The funny thing is, the service known as CSS is geared toward doing just that, teaching folks how to manage their own symptoms. TA DAAA!!! That's it, can't be explained any clearer.

...and what you simply refuse to accept... that the entire system is corrupt! Half of those people being sent "for help" are no more mentally ill than you or I. The REASON there are so many facilities is because there is no shortage of referrals! Hire a doctor and a few Psych majors who feel it is too cold to surf right now and are tired of waiting tables, get listed with Southeastern, and the money starts rolling in. So let me be clear - knock off the BS referrals and the number of facilities waiting for the monthly cash cow will dry up on their own.

2 things....

Two things are obvious here, you know a lot about "bovine droppings" and don't know diddly about the area mental health care problems!

So when did you get your Psych degree?

Hey, I freely admit that I have never been committed, addicted, or had the weepies because I felt "unfulfilled," so my point of view is purely that of a taxpayer who is sick and tired of subsidizing life's losers....and there are a LOT of losers in these programs. I have no problem with helping people who TRULY need help. The problem is that you and I likely have wildly varying interpretations of who needs help. You view addiction and depression as mental illnesses. I view them as weaknesses, character flaws, and a total lack of discipline.

other programs needed as well

There is a whole other program out there called Community Support. This program is dedicated to helping children with a mental illness diagnosis such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and numerous behavioral disorders. This can be the kid who kills themselves or is secretly self-mutilating. This can be the child in the classroom that threatens to get a gun and blow his peers away or the kid that beats up anyone that looks at him "funny". This is also the type of children that we will be reading about in the newspapers in a few years because they've maimed, raped, or killed someone. It has taken some serious hits as well. Southeastern, NC has had to deal with Value Options, a company that authorizes the medicaid payments for this service. They've been taking away services for nearly a year now and I've not heard much in the media about it. I understand that the economy has taken some hits recently, but I'd rather my tax dollars go toward helping these kids now rather than paying for "3 hots and a cot" in the prison system. Oh, and by the way, also pay for a college education for those same prisoners.