Nevada increases funding for Las Vegas-area mental health services

Nevada increases mental health funding

When governments establish mental health services, funding is commonly the limiting factor for what treatments are offered. In some cases, essential programs will run out of money and be forced to fold, as no other agency steps up as a financial backer.

Finding funding for comprehensive mental health services can be difficult, but Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has managed to patch together $3.5 million for mental health programs in the Las Vegas area, the Las Vegas Sun reported. Though the majority of the money was taken from a grant intended to address the state’s alcohol problem, Sandoval recently transferred the funds to Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services branch.

Focusing on the funding
Sandoval and his colleagues know that $3.5 million is not enough to run an entire state’s mental health services department for very long, so Nevada will be targeting the money to address only those in the greatest need.

KNPR explained that $1.9 million will go to establishing two mobile crisis teams for Southern and Northern Nevada. These teams of roughly 12 staff members each would provide prompt mental health care to children who otherwise would not receive care or would wait in an emergency room for hours. Both initiatives are likely to see real-world progress by the end of the calendar year, state officials said. Sandoval’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Council is expected to be a large part of all developments moving forward.

Is coverage for all possible?
Sandoval’s new mobile crisis teams are sure to help some Nevadans in need of mental health care, but the $3.5 million does not guarantee that the program will grow or continue after this year. Several state lawmakers believed that Nevada will have a difficult decision to make when the mental health services of the state call for more funding in the coming months and the state has no money to give.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Nevada has the infrastructure and funds to treat roughly 20 percent of its citizens who have mental health conditions. In 2006, the state spent just 2 percent of its total budget on treatment programs. However, 74 percent of spending by the Nevada state mental health agency went directly to community health services instead of to temporary medical care, exceeding the national average of 70 percent.

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