Community Mental Health

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Staffers at Community Mental Health of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties have their eyes on every penny, now that Gov. Granholm's executive order reduces state spending on pharmaceutical services by $10 million.

While it's unclear which prescription drugs will not be covered by the state, executive director Bob Sheehad says it's crucial for the mentally ill to be able to get their medication.

"If it affects our consumers, the medications that they need to take, they'll turn to older medications and the side effects are bad. When the side effects are bad, they stop taking them and then you see an increased number of mentally ill patients in the hospital," said Sheehan.

This isn't the first time the community mental health has had to deal with budget cuts. Over the last five years, they've faced cuts more than $10 million, which has forced them to stop programs they call critical to the community.

We've restricted services to at-risk kids and adults. We cannot offer as much counseling to them. We don't serve the jails and community centers as much. It's the lowest we've seen in years," said Sheehad.

The organization plans to cut their own budget by $8 to $13 million just in 2004, more than all of the budgets they've faced in the last four years.

But optimism still remains. They say residents in the area will soon realize the health of their community is being affected and will hopefully turn out to vote when it's time to decide how the state's money should be spent.