Updated: Thursday, 15 Mar 2012, 8:02 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 15 Mar 2012, 4:37 PM EDT
BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - A health group says Massachusetts has cut more funding for mental illness than any other state in New England.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Massachusetts has cut funding for mental health by more than $55 million since 2009.
Leading advocates are rallying at the Massachusetts State House, calling on lawmakers to increase funding for community-based mental health services by $30 million in the state budget.
Advocates say people living with mental illness can recover and live productively when there are services available to them such as peer directed programs, clubhouses, case management and residential support
They warn that defunding community-based programming runs the risk of allowing people to develop long-term mental and physical health disorders that can launch health care costs through the roof.
"We've seen a drastic increase in just families struggling, people without services, people in the emergency rooms and the Commonwealth is not saving money, they're just spending it in the wrong places," said Police Specialist Toby Fisher of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
At budget hearings held across the state, Patrick administration officials have repeatedly said that health care costs and other spending are growing faster and higher than tax collection revenues.
While they are mainly focused on restructuring services to make them more cost efficient, they've acknowledged that spending cuts are inevitable.