Pushing for Mental Health Stabilization Act

By: Cathleen Moxley Email
By: Cathleen Moxley Email

Statistics say drug overdoses, suicide rates and the number of homeless people with mental illnesses is on the rise in West Virginia, but now some people in the area are working to change that.

It all has to do with the mental health stabilization act of 2009.

The bill has already been passed by the house and the senate, and now many who are in some way or another affected by a mental illness are joining together to urge Governor Manchin to sign it and make it a law.

"He would like to live as normal of a life as he can, but there's no support," Theresa Sapp said about her son.

Sapp's son was diagnosed with a mental illness about five years ago, and now her main concern is his future.

"As a mom that's real hard to think, that someday when he doesn't have that support that he's gonna be homeless, and when we see these people that are homeless and people say they need to get a job; a lot of those people can't work. They need a place to live. They need support," she said.

But if Senate Bill 672, the Mental Health Stabilization Act of 2009 passes, that future could be brighter for Sapp's son and many others.

"It would keep these people out of hospitals. It gives them a purpose in life. Everybody wants a purpose," Sapp said.

A purpose that Sarah Stephens says is her five children.

"They mean everything to me, and it means everything that I set an example for them," Stephens said. "And to sit around and be depressed about all the world's problems and to isolate myself isn't going to do anyone any good."

Supporters say if people like Stephens get the help they need now, it could save money in the long-run.

"It's cheaper to treat people in the community and give them support than it is to hospitalize them, and it's better in terms of quality in care," Tom Susman, a consultant with the W.Va. Behavioral Healthcare Providers, said.

Officials say West Virginia was once a leader in mental health services, but funding cuts over the last 15 years has reversed that progress.

If the bill becomes a law it will allow up to $6 million to be spent on a variety of programs and services.

To make sure that happens supporters plan on calling the governor's office and telling their stories.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Hazel Location: Parkersburg on Apr 21, 2009 at 05:19 AM
    Westbrook Health Services has been a huge help in making sure their clients and our residents are taken care of in many ways! I work at the Peer Support Drop in Center and if it weren't for them helping some clients and our residents, they would have to go without. Westbrook and their employees go above and beyond to show that they care. If you went to Westbrook and didn't recieve the care you deserve, maybe you weren't ready to get the help you need and deserve. Thank you Westbrook. You and your staff do make a difference. Keep up the caring and great work. And yea, I called the Governors office. One more voice. . .
  • by S. Location: parkersburg on Apr 17, 2009 at 12:10 PM
    Westbrook Health Services has come to the aid of many in this community and the surrounding area. Without the bill in question many of these much needed services will be cut. I urge everyone to call the Govenor's office in support of this bill.
  • by erma Location: parkersburg on Apr 17, 2009 at 11:35 AM
    I have been struggling for years to help my son he has been in and ot of the hospital for years. his medicine is still not right and I am not allowed to talk with his doctor because of the hippa laws so the help I can give him is limited. I am told that taking his medication is his choice and in my opinion it should not be. It is very hard to watch him deteriate every time he is out of the hospital. he will take whaterever the doctors tell him to just to get out of the hospital no matter the side effects and then when he get out he stops taking them. my son need to be monitored more closely and given his meds on a daily basis and I cannot get any help in this area. when my son is doing good he is a wonderful person. all I need is for someone to give him his meds everyday. when I am gone he will be homeless again. I am 60 years old and who knows how long a person will live. I am very worried.
  • by B. Location: Parkersburg on Apr 17, 2009 at 07:59 AM
    Just to address the previous viewer....This again is not a Westbrook issue. This is a state issue. I am curious...you took the time to email your negative comment, have you taken the time to call the governor to try to make a true difference?
  • by S Location: Parkersburg on Apr 17, 2009 at 06:49 AM
    Westbrook Health Services has provided help for people who are in need that don't have the support system and finicial support. Westbrook has been able to help me who can't afford it. Westbrook has diffrent programs that assist all kinds of Mental illness and Substance abuse problems. If it was not for Westbrook I would have no place to go, they have been my second family. Thank you Westbrook and all your staff for helping me!!!!!!
  • by Haha Location: vienna on Apr 16, 2009 at 07:04 PM
    Westbrook stinks. Try to be a client if you have insurance and not a medical card or chips.
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