Obama and Perdue Administrations Reach Mental Health Agreement
Nathan Deal Indicates Support
Budget in Hands of General Assembly
By Gareth Fenley
Published in the NAMI Augusta Azalea newsletter, Dec. 2010
On October 19, 2010, public mental health care in the State of Georgia was placed under the supervision of a federal overseer named Elizabeth Jones. This happened under a brand new settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Georgia.
Readers of the Azalea know about an earlier settlement agreement from January 2009, in which Georgia promised to fix the state hospitals. That was under a federal law called CRIPA: the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
The brand new October 19 agreement (the second settlement) focuses on community services to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. It is based on a different and newer federal law, the ADA: the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Providing services in the community – instead of total institutions like hospitals, jails and prisons – is going to save money for the taxpayers. But the state mental health budget has been so starved over the past few decades, it actually must increase to support this new settlement agreement, while every other state department must have its budget cut.
On November 3, the first day after his election as Georgia's next governor, Nathan Deal said he was supportive of the second settlement agreement.
On December 12, members of the Georgia General Assembly will gather in Athens for the Carl Vinson Legislative Institute at the University of Georgia. This is a retreat and orientation for state legislators before they get to work in 2011. They will hear a program from Senator Johnney Grant and Representative Jay Neal covering the new settlement.
The Georgia Legislative Behavioral Health Caucus, which includes NAMI Georgia, is working on assistance to structure those presentations right now.
Legislators need to hear from YOU about what YOU and your family and neighbors need! Become a fully informed and active advocate. Read more about the settlement (and even the entire 50-page settlement text, if you wish) right here on the NAMI Augusta website. Then be sure to contact your Georgia elected officials!