Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Survival Instinct

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Survival Instinct

Article excerpt

We enter 2009 with feelings of both hope and despair. Many in the field eagerly are anticipating the Obama administration and Democratic-controlled Congress to reform the nation's healthcare system and take steps that specifically support behavioral healthcare services. Yet at the same time a deepening recession is wreaking havoc on state and local governments' budgets, directly impacting the funding of many behavioral healthcare organizations. As millions find themselves without jobs or return home from war and look to behavioral healthcare centers for help, many of these organizations are facing dramatic funding cuts.

Yet this isn't anything new to seasoned behavioral healthcare executives. They've faced tough times before and found ways to survive. Despite the dire economic climate, organizations still are forging ahead with investing in new facilities, training staff, upgrading information technology systems (see page 17), and offering nontraditional programs to help consumers live healthier lives (more on this in a future issue). Many also are reaching out to their elected representatives to make sure they know how vital these services are to their communities--and how devastating cuts can be.

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For example, I recently read about a state legislator reception held by the Area Mental Health Center in Southwest Kansas. (1) Executive Director Ric Dalke convened the meeting to educate lawmakers on how proposed state budget cuts will impact those with serious and persistent mental illness. …

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