By Nova Safo, CNN
Follow on Twitter: @Nova_Safo
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(CNN) – States have been slashing their mental healthcare budgets, even as mass shootings and the gun control debate highlight the need for more mental health resources.
Protesters in Chicago highlighted some of the consequences of those cuts last week. The occasion was the one-year anniversary of the city’s closure of half of its 12 public mental healthcare clinics. Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, one of the protest organizers, recalled the story of one patient who had confronted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel before the closures.
[3:45] “She told the mayor to his face, if you close my clinic, I will die. And within a month of him closing the clinic, she was dead. She died of heart failure. However, nobody can say that stress isn’t related to heart failure. She was going through immense stress at the prospect of losing her therapist.”
Bob Carolla, spokesman for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says states across the country have cut $4 billion from their mental healthcare services, leaving a large, unmet need in many communities.
[3:05] “There’s an increase in people with mental illness coming to emergency rooms. And there are longer waiting lists in community mental health clinics. There’s an increase in the jail population that do have mental health problems.”
Since the Newtown tragedy, there have been a number of bills introduced in Congress to reverse some of the cuts in mental healthcare. One bipartisan bill would restore more than $1 billion in funding through the Medicaid program.
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