I have been a youth case manager for the last four years, orchestrating support services for families of severely emotionally unstable youth. I am writing out of concern for those families about the proposed state budget cuts to health and human services. Expecting families to navigate all the intricacies of our mental health system on their own is unrealistic and irresponsible. But that is exactly what the proposed cuts will mean to hundreds of families in Billings, and more across the state. That’s like expecting me to go to the auto parts store, buy all the correct parts and fix a car by myself.
Without access to specialized services some of these kids may never recover from their mental health issues to become functioning members of our community. I fear that acute units, emergency rooms and correctional facilities will become overwhelmed without being able to provide real support these young people need. We need our legislators to go back to Helena and come up with real solutions to balance the budget that allow all Montanans to live a dignified life with access to essential services. They should be focused on removing barriers for people with disabilities, not creating more.