Mental Health Crisis: Budget Cuts Costing You - WSPA.com

Mental Health Crisis: Budget Cuts Costing You

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A mental health crisis is growing in the state and it's costing you in ways you may not even realize.

The Department of Mental Health has lost nearly $90 million over the past 4 years.

We did some digging and uncovered several ways those cuts are taking a toll on your wallet and your safety.

Finding help for mental illness can be a struggle.

Kelly Troyer's son Alex was diagnosed with autism, and bi-polar disorder, finding her son help is a full time job.

"I am representing one of many families that are being basically destroyed because we cant get the help we need," Troyer said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI says since 2008 the state has cut 90 million dollars from the Department of Mental Health.

"That was the largest loss of funding in the country," NAMI Executive Director Bill Lindsey said.

Instead of getting treatment the mentally ill end up in the emergency rooms and jail cells.

We dug into the numbers for you.

NAMI tells us about 300 inmates in need of psychiatric care sit, in the Richland County Jail.

Housing each inmate costs $16,000 a year.

A total cost of 4.8 million dollars.

Lindsay says, providing preventive treatment, instead of jail, would slash costs by nearly four million dollars, and that's just one county.

7 On Your Side wants to know why the funding was cut.

"We do have a constitutional obligation to balance the budget of the state and you can't spend dollars that are not there, and you have to make tough decisions," South Carolina Representative Garry Smith said.

For Kelly Troyer and her son, that's hard to swallow.

"Alex will say if I cant work, if I can't have my own house, if I cant drive a car, if I cant get a job why should I live? What do I have to live for mom? And how do you answer that, lawmaker?"

Ao we asked South Carolina Representative Garry Smith for her.

"What do you say to a mother who is having a problem finding a place for her children, or a mother who can't afford to get her child proper care and there's long waits and these facilities?" 7 On Your Sides Rachel Kent asked Smith.

"That we are certainly aware of that, that we are aware, we certainly do have sympathy for you there's no doubt about that. We have to try and address those things as we have the funds to do that," Smith said.

Last year $17 million was put back into the Department of Mental Health.

Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark feel that's not enough.

Clark says the lack of funding makes it hard for his deputies to do their primary job, keeping you safe.

"We can end up with several deputies off the road just transporting mental patients," Clark said.

Clark says his deputies are driving to Charleston and Aiken to transport patients to psychiatric hospitals about 50 times a month, because beds in the upstate are hard to come by.

Kelly Troyer's son ended up in a facility more than 4 hours away.

"Maybe they should just come spend a day in our shoes,just one 24 hours, and they'd see how hard it is to get a bath everyday to go to the grocery store, to keep enough food in the house no matter how much money you have, to access care no matter how much money you have or don't have," Troyer said.

If you or someone you know is in need of help The Department Of Mental Health has several outpatient mental health clinics across the upstate.

There is one in Anderson, Seneca, Pickens, Greenville, Simpsonville, and Spartanburg.

For a list of locations and phone numbers, click here.

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