Mental health, substance abuse low priority in funding terms | Editorials

KeepHealthCare.ORG – Mental health, substance abuse low priority in funding terms | Editorials

THE ISSUE: The Centers eliminates another Citrus County position.

OUR OPINION: Need to focus more, not fewer, local resources on mental health and substance abuse issues.

There was more disheartening news the other day on the mental health/substance abuse front. Further shrinking its Citrus County footprint, The Centers eliminated its local management position for Oasis, a long-term residential treatment program for mothers with at least one child under age 10 who either jeopardized or lost custody of her child(ren).

The Centers, a private nonprofit contracted through the state to provide mental health/substance abuse services in Marion and Citrus counties, said it decided to consolidate oversight of two residential programs for financial reasons. The manager for The Centers Addie Rawls residential treatment center in Marion County will now also be responsible for Oasis in Citrus County.

Oasis is one of the few mental health/substance abuse success stories here. With just 15 beds, this program is admittedly small, but it meets the needs of individuals with serious needs. Treatment services include intensive therapy — individual, group and family — as well as substance abuse support, parenting coaching, and basic education as needed. It also offers participants critically important transition planning for leading a productive, sober life with and for the children back out in the community upon “graduation” from the program.

Certainly The Centers must remain financially viable to deliver any services at all, but it’s discouraging to see the erosion of mental health and substance abuse recovery resources in Citrus County.

Leaders from all parts of our community should be looking for a more robust set of solutions to Citrus County’s mental health/substance abuse issues. Two groups are currently working in that direction. The Community Health Improvement Partnership, spearheaded through the county health department, has a working committee on mental health and substance abuse. A new, wide-ranging group convened by United Way is also looking at mental health and substance abuse, particularly through a school/justice prism.

This isn’t an issue we can consign to an organization based elsewhere to “fix” for us. Citrus County should focus on a comprehensive, community-based solution, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.


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