To The Daily Sun,
Thank you to the members of the Belknap County Delegation who reconsidered the decision to eliminate funding for Genesis Behavioral Health's Adult Outpatient Program (AOP) at their work session on Feb. 16. We appreciated the time spent discussing our program and the questions asked by the representatives in an effort to understand and clarify the issues.
The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than $100 billion each year in the United States, causing unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2011). GBH is committed to reducing the economic and human cost of untreated mental illness in the region. Programs such as AOP are critical to this goal.
The patients in AOP seek short-term therapy and counseling for issues such as family and marital problems, stress, depression, bereavement, or coping with a life-changing event such as divorce, illness or job loss. The program caters to those who are not emergent or chronically or severely ill. For example, an elder who is trying to be well enough to stay out of a nursing home, or an adult who has been incarcerated and is trying to stay out of jail and be productive, or an adult who needs help and support to stay employed and keep a family together.
While some of the individuals seeking short-term services are insured, many do not have insurance or have high deductibles and co-pays, precluding their ability to seek treatment. Many are considered "working poor" and may fall through the cracks because they lack the financial resources to pay for treatment. Funding from the county makes treatment possible for this population.
Offering this service is cost-effective, as it is designed to keep people healthy in their communities by giving them access to the care they need when they need it. The AOP program ensures people with short-term mental health challenges are getting treatment quickly and effectively — allowing them to work, volunteer, contribute to society and lead healthy, productive lives.
The Belknap County Delegation is making a prudent and much-needed investment for their community by restoring funding for this program. We look forward to a continued dialogue and partnership.
The Joint Advocacy Committee of Genesis Behavioral Health & LRGHealthcare
Liz Merry, Chair
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