South Carolina has slashed general fund appropriations for mental health programs by 39 percent over the last three years. During the same span, North Dakota increased its appropriations by 48 percent.
The two states are at opposite ends of new 50-state study , released Thursday (November 11) by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, showing how general fund spending on mental health programs has changed after the recession. The District of Columbia and more than half the states - 28 - cut funding for those with serious mental illnesses, with total cuts amounting to $1.6 billion between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2012.
Nine states cut funding by 10 percent or more during that time: South Carolina (39 percent), Alabama (36 percent), Alaska (33 percent), Illinois (32 percent), Nevada (28 percent), California (21 percent), Idaho (18 percent), Kansas (12 percent) and Mississippi (10 percent). The District of Columbia also imposed a substantial decrease, reducing its appropriations by 24 percent.
Besides North Dakota, five other states increased funding by more than 10 percent: Georgia (22 percent), Oregon (21 percent), Maine (15 percent), West Virginia (12 percent) and Rhode Island (11 percent).
The analysis does not count money spent on mental health programs through Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, or through specific state agencies, such as child and family authorities. It examines only general funds.
Even so, NAMI says, "the sum of the total cuts (to mental health services) would be significantly higher" if other programs and agencies were included .