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“McKean County human services applying for block grant”

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This July 4, 2014 article on the Bradford Era website talks about where McKean County is at in applying for the human services block grant.

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting McKean County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting McKean County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Commissioners worry about pursuit of human services block grant”

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This October 29, 2013 article on “The Express” website talks about concerns about the Clinton-Lycoming county joinder pursuit of the PA human services block grant.

 

“Mental-health groups see new openings for funding”

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This February 25, 2013 article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website talks about the effect that the mass shooting in Newtown has had on mental health funding

 

“Corbett’s budget leaves question about mentally ill patients”

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This article appears on the Public Opinion Online website, but I didn’t see a date, so I’m not sure when it was published exactly, just that it came up in results in a search I did for articles in the past week (circa February 9, 2013).  The article discusses Corbett’s human service funding and the potential impact it may have.

“Corbett’s 2013-14 Budget: Helping Pennsylvanians In Need”

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This February 6, 2013 article on the GantDaily.com website talks about Corbett’s budget proposal for this year, but specifically the human services aspect of things.

“JFK Gives Mental Care Prescription”

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This February 5, 1963 article found in The Pittsburgh Press, vol. 79 number 323 on page 11, outlines JFK’s plans to reduce the cost of caring for folks with mental illnesses and mental retardation (currently known as intellectually disabled) by increasing spending on community based services.  Points made in the article include that it would cost less to treat someone in the community then it would to have them treated as an inpatient.

I post this particular article to show that the current battle being waged over human services funding is not a new one, but a rather old one.  It is a battle that while the names have changed, the arguments seem to have remained very much the same.  On one side there are those who feel that it is a waste of money to help those with mental health or intellectual disabilities, while at the same time there are those who are just as adamant that it is the right thing to do and a worthy cause to help folks with these sorts of diagnosis.

Is it possible that maybe we are running on a mouse wheel trying to come up with new answers to an old problem?  if so, should we maybe consider getting off the mouse wheel and look to see what else is out there that might work and be beneficial to both sides of the battle line.  The people getting hurt by the battle are those being fought over.  We get glimmers of hope from one side that get ripped away by the other side.

I’m seeing an overall improvment in the quality of the care I receive, but I also know that there are many who are falling through the cracks, because of funding cuts to community based services when people fall through these cracks, thats when the media pays attention and our society goes into a state of shock and disbelief while at the same time denying any responsibility for what happened.  I saw an article the other day that indicated the person who went on a shooting spree at Western Psych in Pittsburgh, PA had actually contacted Western Psych approximately 40 times for mental health reasons prior to the incident.  If this is true then that tells me that it isn’t just the person who committed the crime that is at fault, but I have to suggest that the system failed this person not neccesarily because Western Psych messed up, but because as a society we have underfunded human services programs to the point where waiting lists are the norm and people who are in critical need of help end up waiting for months to get the hep they need.  Most cases the person doesn’t go on a shooting spree, but the effects are still costly.  Someone who is depressed for example is at a high risk of comitting suicide, which if they succeed, will impact the person and everyone they know, and also create a ripple effect that effects others the person may not have known, but still there is an impact.  There is the lose of the individual, then the survivors may end up losing wages as well, because they had to take time off for funeral and grieving.  Because these people took time off, their employer may have lost business because the business may not have been able to run as efficiently during that time.  The ripples continue on and on.

While not every person with a mental illness is able to work a traditional 9 to 5 job, there are ways that they are able to give back to their community.  In my case, I write this blog, research the history of Warren State Hospital, I serve as secretary on a Consumer Advisory Board for my local mental health service provider, I occasionally write and publish articles.  Am I lazy?  Some may say I am, but if they got to know me, they would realize that even though I may not be holding down a jb, I am working towards the goal of being able to work.  I have an Anxiety disorder that makes it very challenging to do things like buy food without panicking.   A lot of what I do is in a very small fairly controlled realm and for me if I stay in that realm I function fairly well, but when I try, and I often do try, to step beyond my realm I start to have problems.  I have been expanding my world a little and in the past year have gone from feeling like I couldn’t leave my home without a purpose (like buying food) to where I am able to go for walks around my neighborhood and not feel like I have to have a purpose for leaving my home.  I still struggle a lot, new things scare me, even things that are good cause me to have problems.  I love computers, so I’m finding ways to use technology to help me overcome my anxiety.  Metaldetecting is one example of something I’ve done to help myself work on expanding my world a little.  I’m currently looking at trying geocaching while these are more like hobbies, to me, they are stepping stones, things I can do that allow me to use technology to help me get out of my home and into the world.  They also offer something I can use as a sort of “prop” to help me talk to others a little easier, which is something that I generally can’t do unless someone approaches me and initiates the conversation.  Technology that I’m using is such that I would not be allowed to use it if I were in a mental health facility as an inpatient, I would have to try to use whatever was available to me which may not be much in the way of things that are interesting to me, and help me to engage in conversation with others.  Being in the community and being able to try non-traditional methods of helping myself with the encouragement of the professionals that have been helping me,  has enabled my progress to keep moving forward, though like anyone I have good days and bad days, and the bad days make progress come to a screeching halt sometimes, but with the community supports I have in place, I am able to serve on a board, which is something that if you had suggested I try back when I was in my early 30’s I would have had a complete meltdown over the mere thought of trying something that important.

In closing I want to thank those who have been supportive of me and helped me face my ongoing challenges, but at the same time I hope that those who feel that fundiung the programs I utilize aren’t worthwhile, I hope that maybe something I shared here will help increase an understanding of what has been helpful to me and take away the idea that it costs less for me to be in the community with my support system then it does for me to be in a facility as an inpatient.

JFK was just one of many who have seen that it was more cost effective for folks to be treated in the community, maybe it’s time for others to wake up and see that there might be some truth to it and that cutting funding to these programs is detrimental to not only my success but also the success of many others.

“Four NEPA counties seek human services block grant”

 

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This August 24, 2012 article on the RepublianHerald.com website indicates that 30 counties have applied to be part of the state’s trial program for the human  services block grant.  The article doesn’t include all the counties that applied, but does show that only 20 counties will be selected for the pilot program.

 

“Budget Agreement Details at a Glance ” (2012-2013) (and some personal thoughts)

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This article on the PA House Republican Caucus website does not have a date indicating a specific day it was posted, but based on the contents I’m going to assume it was either today or yesterday (June 28, 2012 or June 29, 2012) based on content and when I found it (June 29, 2012).

The article highlights various aspects of the state budget giving a brief summary of some of the hot topic items along with a few others.

While the Human Service block grant was not implemented, there was a decision made to run a pilot program to test the block grant out rather than go statewide right off the back.  Also, General assistance appears to have been eliminated from the budget, but those who have received General Assistance despite losing the cash assistance part of it, should still be able to receive Medical Assistance if I’m understanding things correctly.  I know that there are folks who have waited for a response from Social Security who aren’t able to work, so I hope that if you are reading this and know someone who is on General Assistance, you take a moment to reach out to them, because their lives have probably gone from bad to worse with this change.

I was someone who at one time was on General Assistance, while I went through the process of applying for Social Security, and if it hadn’t been for General Assistance and other programs, I would have been in a situation where I would have had the option of either living on the streets or moving in with family or friends and freeloading off them until I was told I was approved for Social Security.  For me it was a time where I was experiencing some severe mental health issues in the form of a Conversion Disorder that manifested as Blindness, compounded by PTSD, Depression and a lifelong struggle with Anxiety among other things, and I lost my job, my apartment, and was at the mercy of my family and the government when it came to trying to keep from becoming homeless.  I am grateful to those who reached out to me during that time, and hope that there are others who will do the same for folks they may know who are in a similar situation.   Sometimes something as simple as giving someone a ride to the place they need to go to apply for something to possibly help them can mean the world to someone in that situation, because even though that application isn’t a guarantee, it does offer a glimmer of hope that maybe things will improve, and when you are in that place, even a glimmer of hope can mean the world to you.  I lost the majority of my belongings when I lost my apartment, and when someone gave me some pans that they had lying around, it was a huge thing for me, because I knew at that moment that if I could manage to keep a roof over my head I would have a way to cook food.  Someone else helped me fill out paperwork during times when I wasn’t able to see because of the Conversion Disorder, and I can’t thank them enough for that act of kindness, it was something they could have easily told me I had to do it myself, but they saw I had a need for help and they helped me do what I needed to do to meet deadlines for paperwork.

My point in sharing that aspect of my life isn’t to make folks feel sorry for me, but to point out that there are ways that we can help people who will be effected by the elimination of General Assistance, that doesn’t require giving someone money.  I know there are people who are hesitant to give people money, which is why I wanted to point out there are other ways to help the folks who will be affected by the elimination of General Assistance.

“Lawsuit seeks to halt Pa. welfare cuts at the pass”

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This article dated March 16, 2012 and on Pennlive.com talks about the lawsuit recently filed by the Disability Rights Network citing the Federal Mental Health and Intellectual Disability act of 1966 and indicating that Corbett’s budget would be in violation of this act.

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