The people who run Missouri’s community mental health centers say a gaping hole exists in the mental health safety net and only money will patch it.
A spokesman for the centers describes them as service providers to people with serious mental illness, youth who are seriously emotionally disturbed, and those with serious alcohol and drug problems. But Karl Wilson with the Coalition of Community Mental Health Centers says the demand for services far outstrips resources.
He says many of those who cannot get mental health treatment when they are released from prison are highly likely to go back.
Wilson says people make great sacrifices to provide those services. But he says some service providers have received only one small cost-of-living increase from the state in the last six years. He says the safety net has "huge holes in it," and the state is paying for it in crises in the emergency room side, in the health care system, and in the corrections system.
He says every community mental health center in Missouri has a waiting list that can last as long as two months or more. He points to the Crider Center where he works as a place that turns away ten people a day–people with psychiatric needs, no insurance, and few resources but who don’t meet the increasingly marrow criteria from the mental health department to receive service or can’t be served because of lack of financial resources.
The Crider Center serves people in Lincoln, Warren, St. Charles, and Franklin Counties.