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EXAMPLE Policy Experience MTG-1

EXAMPLE Policy Experience MTG-1 - Mentai Health Matters 1...

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Unformatted text preview: Mentai Health Matters 1 Running head: MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS Evaluating Santa Clara County Mental Heaith Budget Cuts: Mental Health Matters Kristen Hendricks San Jose State University In partial fulfillment of the requirements for SW204 April 29, 2007 - Mental Health Matters 2 Introduction This assignment will address the most recently proposed budget cuts for 2008 in Santa Clara County. Specifically, this paper will describe the event on Tuesday April 26, 2007 at the Board of Supervisors Chambers at 9:00am as it relates to policy concepts, and what can be 7.] learned by this event. Background The meeting held by the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday attracted well over 400 people interested in the proposed mental health budget cuts. The goal of this well organized group was to present a strong argument to the Board of Supervisors against the cutting of the budget. There is a proposed $238 million budget cut for the County of Santa Clara and the portion designated to be cut for mental health is $34 million. The men and women attending the meeting were most concerned about the affect these cuts would have on clients and the potential rise in cost for other health care entities. There were over sixty individuals comprised of doctors, legal advocates, social workers, students and mental health clients whffdke for 60 seconds in front of the Board of Supervisors. Their collective objective was to describe what might happen if the budget cuts were to become a reality and verbally petition against the cuts. Their position included the claim that the cuts would cause several mental health facilities to close causing many clients, as many as 8000, to no longer have the opportunity to receive services. This would devastate the condition of mental health services in Santa Clara County. Furthermore, the proposed budget cuts will have a further negative impact on the county because reducing services will inevitably increase both emergency room visits and health care costs. Overall, the large group of concerned professionals and community members presented a strong argument against the budget cuts and did so with conviction and resolve. Mental Health Matters 3 Application of Policy Concepts There are two policy concepts that can be applied to this political issue. First, people who showed up to speak directly to the Board of Supervisors were employing tactics of how to successfully attack a proposal (or in this case the budget cuts) and secondly this political issue may be viewed from varying definitions and ideology depending on one’s perspective. Jansson (2003) outlines how an argument must be formed in order to successfully challenge another’s viewpoint within the political arena. Two of these strategies are: to attack the “values implicit or explicit in the proposal (131133011, 2003 p. 252)” and to expose the “unanticipated or adverse consequences of the proposal (Jansson, 2003 p. 252).” The most obvious attack was on the values implicitly defined by the budget cuts. The proposed budget cuts will affect mentally ill clients drasticaliy. If 8000 clients are without services, then it is clear the writers of the budget proposal are not in favor of supporting services for these types of clients. Specifically, the men and women who spoke made it clear that mental health needs to be valued highly and by determining the budget cuts they are stating they don’t care about this issue or these clients. The other argument brought to the Board of Supervisors was that of explaining in detail the unanticipated or adverse consequences of the proposal which were described as very extreme. Those clients who received outpatient services prior to the proposed cuts would no longer receive services and therefore he lefi to fend for themselves. The unintended consequences of the cuts are homelessness, increased emergency room visits, and death. The one argument that I was disappointed not to see was an offer of concession that may have served as a counterproposal. Their argument would have been stronger had someone offered a mediary solution. I know that those in attendance probably felt there wasn’t any solution besides not having the budget cuts but compromise is always better. Mental Health Matters 4 The second application of policy concepts involves definitions and ideology as described by Chambers and Wedel (2005). This issue can be defined differently depending on your perspective. To some, the. problem invoives not having enough money to support services; it is simple, cut and dry. The solution to the problem is to cut programs that are no longer “necessary.” The definition of the problem is stated from the perspective of someone whose ideology comes from sound fiscal policy and action. The other side of the argument is much different with the problem definition stemming from a social concern. The opposing side defines the problem with little concern for financial components and finds merit only in helping the population that needs services. The ideology is clear with direct concern and priority for mentally ill clients. It is clear that the way a problem. is defined will have underlying tones of the v/ flame of reference or ideology of the creators of the position or argument. New Learning The experience of participating in a political event and supporting an event l feel strongly about was deeply moving. I have been placed at Santa Clara County I ail, Elmwood Facility, during the past year for my internship and have come to learn that so many of my clients are in desperate need of mental health services. It has come to my attention, however, that these women merely receive a 15 minute visit where they are then prescribed medicine. My first reaction was to advocate for my clients and find out why these women are not receiving more comprehensive mental health services. The answer to my questions involved lack of funding. Needless to say when I found out that the county was proposing drastic cuts in addition to the already lacking mental health services, I was very interested in supporting any political action that was going to be taken. When l arrived the day of the event I was overwhelmed by the organization and response of those who showed up. There were as many as 250 people present before 9:00am Mental Health Matters 5 wearing yellow shirts, holding signs and distributing flyers about why, “mental health matters.” As the large crowd began to filter into the chambers it was clear there were many more people than the room could hold. The facility opened another room with a live video feed to accommodate the overflow of people. This room also went over capacity and around 9:45am people were being turned away. This turn out was extremely inspiring and let me know how motivated people can become when an issue such as mental health is on the line. After the initial formalities of the meeting over sixty people signed up to speak to the Board of Supervisors directly. I gildouraged by many of the 60 second speeches because of the moving nature and enthusiasm of their words. It was truly amazing to see this many people feel so passionately about the fate and health of others. It was then I was reminded why I am in this field and felt hope towards the future. It also was a perfect example how when people organize and come together around a certain issue, they have power and are able to make substantial change. Conclusion Despite the large turnout and the passion of those who spoke to the Board of Supervisors, and even if Santa Clara County Mental Health does not receive the astronomical number of budget cuts that are proposed, the state of mental health is still not in the best shape. It is clear that the trend is to reduce services rather than increase them and that drug, alcohol and mental health services are not the midst: $3th priority to all people. It is just unfortunate that the result is going to be so much worse than increasing services now. The homeless population is sure to .. . m.‘ increase and the health care costs via emergency room visits will inevitably skyrockettihsja L social worker who is focused on mental health, I would like to commit myself to these issues because they affect the clients I plan on working with in the future. Mental Health Matters 6 References Chambers, D. E, & Wedel, K. R. (2005) Social policy and social programs: A method for the practical public policy analyst (4th ed). Boston, MA: AHyn and Bacon. Jansson, B. S. (2003). Becoming an effective poiicy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (4th ed). Pacific Grove, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Coie Learning. Txgfl’l P L f (if an Chow-x f’L’L/kcx 3 Ch; “gt/L41 X; 5n I Le aflf L4 whitey/\- LCM , ’ ‘ - I kw“ A i r“. - 'k i“ L i} a USA UV]; "H fie WM {/Lgm/j f we. 'iL/‘L'Q/l) i/LT lei can/1A 1/1» -u MW Mao/ml»; ‘ ...
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