The plight of the mentally ill in South Carolina is more severe than most other states, according to a report released Wednesday by National Alliance on Mental Illness. The report, called “State Mental Health Cuts: A National Crisis,” shows that South Carolina ranks third in the nation for the level of budget cuts made to mental health services between 2009 and 2011. South Carolina’s state mental health budget was cut 23 percent, behind only Kentucky with a 47 percent cut and Alaska with a 35 percent cut.
Nationwide, state mental health spending was slashed by more than $1.8 billion in the last two years, not including changes in services provided by Medicaid. Tens of thousands of children and adults living with serious mental illness have been denied community- and hospital-based psychiatric care, housing and access to medications, according to the findings.
But by 2009, things already were bad in South Carolina. Lawmakers began handing down steep budget cuts to the mental health community a year earlier, and even more cuts are on the way now. A draft budget before the House next week would cut the Department of Mental Health by another 6 percent in the upcoming fiscal year.