Galveston County Daily News, July 26, 2007

Column by Mike Winburn, Executive Director, Gulf Coast Center

GALVESTON - When the dust had finally cleared at the end of a wild legislative session, something positive had survived. Amazingly, $82.5 million that was appropriated for community mental health crisis services had survived the session ad the veto ax intact. The budget also included additional funds to take almost 2,800 individuals with mental retardation off the waiting lists for services.

These funds could not have come at a more critical time as local communities continue to struggle with consequences of the 2002 budget cuts. Those cuts resulted in a loss of more than $100 million for services. Despite the setback, our community was quick to respond to find solutions to the crisis. Local foundations, such as the Kempner Foundation provided funds for medications. The Bromberg Foundation provided much-needed funds for mentally ill children needing services. The Galveston County Commissioners Court approved additional funds for staff to screen for individuals with mental illness who were being booked into the county jail. Of even greater significance was the creation of a mental health and drug abuse task force, led by Dr. Ben Raimer and University of Texas Medical Branch's community health division ... As the grant funds began to end, the medical branch once again stepped in, with Dr. Karen Sexton providing continuation funds to ensure tat the mobile outreach teams and the case managers were able to continue through the summer until new funds were made available.