Mental health services for adults to be cut $200,000 budget slash to force three layoffs

June 28, 1996|By S. Mitra Kalita | S. Mitra Kalita,SUN STAFF

Adult mental health services will be cut and three employees will be laid off because of a $200,000 reduction in the county Department of Health budget.

Health Officer Frances B. Phillips announced yesterday that the reduction in the fiscal year 1997 budget has forced her to focus resources on mental health programs for children and adolescents.

As of Monday, the department will no longer accept new adult mental health clients and will refer them to private clinics in the county. The mental health program serves about 1,000 adults and 400 children and adolescents.

Staff reductions will be met through early retirement, cutting work hours, reducing contractual staff and laying off one part-time and two full-time employees.

In addition, nine other positions will be left vacant: three through resignations, four on nonrenewed contracts, one retirement and the transfer of one employee to another division of the county health department. One employee has chosen a reduction in hours.

The changes shave the total staff size by about 18 percent -- from 65 to 53 combined contractual and merit employees.

The Department of Health's FY 1997 revised mental health budget will be $2.4 million, including $482,000 in county funds.

The budget cuts arise from the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency's decision to direct $112,000 in funds to a new case management provider. The agency is responsible for coordinating the funding of mental health services in the county.

The remaining loss stems from the shift in services from adults to children because children have less mental health insurance than adults do, said Candice Cason, acting director of the mental health and addiction division of the Health Department.

The reduced mental health budget was not entirely unexpected, officials said yesterday.

"The department had already begun to refocus its resources on the unmet mental health needs of Anne Arundel County's children and adolescents," Phillips said.

This focus is part of a national trend in public health, Cason said. "When you look at prevention and early intervention, you need to look at children," she said.

Pub Date: 6/28/96

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