Maui Patients Protest Mental Health Cuts
By Wendy Osher
Maui patients, providers and counselors are among those protesting state budget cuts that are expected to result in reduced mental health services beginning January 1st. The cuts are part of an effort to reduce spending by $25 million statewide.
Sherilyn Buteline, a Registered Nurse on Maui was among those who demonstrated their concerns in a rally outside of the state building Thursday afternoon. She said the cuts will not only result in job losses for a half dozen island case managers, but there will also be a significant reduction in services to those in need.
“Here on Maui, we’re only going to be able to see our clients 3 hours a month, so we’re going from 8-10 hours a week down to 3.5 hours a month, which is ridiculous,” said Buteline.
Patients have also expressed concerned. Michael Zarate, a client in recovery from chronic depression, said mental health needs often fly under the radar.
“If you take for example, someone having a heart attack, it’s interesting how they get sympathy, they get empathy shown to them (but) people with mental illness have a challenge with brain chemistry and because it’s unseen, nobody has empathy a lot of times,” said Zarate.
Those experiencing mental health emergencies can still receive immediate help by calling the 24-7 ACCESS Mental Health crisis Line–toll free for neighbor islanders at 1-800-753-6879.
(Posted: 8:30 a.m. Friday, December 05, 2008 © Wendy Osher, MauiNOW.com, Pacific Radio Group)