Letter to editor: Why does Governor budget zero for voice of mental health clients?
Source: The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA
Governor is the real obstacle
The Register-Guard’s recent guest viewpoints and letters about humane alternatives in mental health are appreciated. This community dialogue is healing and necessary.
I’ve studied the history of the mental health system over the centuries. Minor reform is not enough. Reform often results in more money for more of the same. One step to deeper change is to start to listen to the diverse perspectives of mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors and their organizations.
Most of the states support the statewide voice of mental health clients in some way, even if small. Most states fund an office of mental health consumer affairs, a statewide conference or a newsletter to support the empowerment of our citizens who are diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities. Many leaders in Oregon’s mental health system and Legislature endorse this common sense idea.
Our advocacy group concludes that a top obstacle to real change in Oregon’s mental health system is in the office of Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
Since Kulongoski took office, his budget item for the statewide voice of mental health clients has been eliminated. The governor has continued to recommend that this funding stay at zero, even while he raised about half a billion dollars to build huge new psychiatric institutions.
Now I hear Kulongoski say that as a superdelegate he may override the majority of Democratic voters in Oregon’s May 20 presidential primary. Is there a pattern here of the governor squelching the voices of Oregonians? Let’s all ask him.
David W. Oaks