(Host) Human Services Secretary Charles Smith says the state needs to re-assess its system of delivering community mental health services. Smith says he agrees that the system has reached a crisis point. Mental health providers say without increases in state funding, some community mental health centers could go bankrupt in next two years.
Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard, Smith says funding for mental health services has been increasing steadily.
(Smith) “It’s not exactly that Vermont has starved the mental health system. The public dollars flowing through the system has grown at a fairly dramatic average rate, but it tends to be because, we keep asking more and more of the system rather than deepening the important services that we’re providing.”
(Host) Smith says the state needs to review how mental health services are delivered, and see if there are ways to improve the system without significant budget increases.
(Smith) “I do think it’s unsustainable to keep going down the path we’re going. I do think it’s time to look at the whole picture and figure out where our priorities really do lie.”
(Host) Smith says discussions are underway to decide how to shore up the community mental system in the short run, and find ways to sustain it in the long term.