It's a widely held view that inadequate state funding for the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County is to blame for the steady collapse of the local public mental health system. That's certainly how MHMRA incessantly spins the situation, and policy makers and elected officials, out of ignorance or convenience, largely have gone along. Last winter, a handful of rabble-rousing patients and advocates began challenging the performance of MHMRA administrators and, to the discomfort of the agency's die-hard apologists, pointing out the human cost of repeated budget cuts. Rejected as contrarians, the group decided to organize as a nonprofit organization committed to bringing greater attention to patient needs. Recently, Houston Area Mental Health Advocates' president, attorney Robert Hager, was awarded seats on two mental health advisory councils. While Hager is still the proverbial voice in the wilderness, HAMHA finally lends something other than an obsession with the bottom line to the debate over mental health care.