For the second time in less than ten years, Texas legislators, faced with a massive budget shortage, are talking about major cuts in mental health funding. If it happens, Texas, which is 48th in the country for such funding, will slash 15 percent of the little it already spends.
"Mental Cases," this week's cover story in the Houston Press, examines what happened in Houston after the last round of cuts and looks at how The System is situated to lose even more.
Preview: It isn't good. The Harris County jail, for example, is now the largest provider of mental health services in the state and emergency rooms have been flooded with people in mental health crisis.
"Mental Cases" also tells the story of Philip Grantham, one of about 8,800 people still served by the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County.
The first time we met Grantham, he was sitting on the steps in front of the public library downtown, talking with a couple other people who didn't have a home. Grantham had only been homeless for a couple days this time, but when he first got to Houston in 2007, he lived on the street.
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Through it all, MHMRA has provided Grantham with his psych meds, basically for free, which keep him stable enough to stay out of trouble, and more importantly, out of jail.
So check out the story and draw your own conclusions on the merits of funding mental health care, and until then, Hair Balls offers some video of Grantham talking about his illness and MHMRA.