Mental health officials hoping to save local programs - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Mental health officials hoping to save local programs

The Friendship House could close its doors July 1 if it doesn't get more funding. The Friendship House could close its doors July 1 if it doesn't get more funding.

We are learning who may be hurt by budget cuts in Siouxland. We're facing cuts in mental health services, just when the talk across the nation is for the need for more treatment, because of a series of shootings.

The regionalization of the state's program has meant the loss of more than $500,000. The state cut funds last year, and this year, Woodbury County has to make cuts.

Those cuts threaten two mental health programs. It takes more than $191,000 a year to run the Friendship House and $250,000 to run the Mental Health Court.

So what does it mean to Siouxland, if we lose those two programs?

The books at this library in the Friendship House have been read by hundreds of adults over the years. But soon, this place where adults with mental health issues come to socialize may no longer be an option, because of a statewide mental health reform.

"We did not make the cut on the core services list in the state of Iowa, so there isn't funding to keep us going," said Roberts.

So, come July 1, activities like these stepping stones could be a thing of the past. And the alternative to these healthy activities has house workers concerned about the well-being of their guests.

"On the streets, doing what? Sitting at home, isolating, making their mental health symptoms worse," said Roberts.

Friendship House has been in the community for 30 years. Several similar facilities, across the state, halted services last year, because they lost funding.

"I want to say, 'Look at us, look at Friendship House. We're doing it right.' We're working for a lot of people on very little cost," said Roberts.

Officials say it costs almost $200,000 each year to keep Friendship House going.

"And now, we're just turning backwards, if we close our doors," said Roberts.

Across town, Kim Fischer-Culver is a case manager for Siouxland Mental Health, and she says she's seen the program work wonders during its 11-year run. There, a judge will frequently meet with mental health patients who have committed a crime.

The program will help them find medical care, addiction help, and even a place to live. That money could also dry up because of county budget cuts.

"The success of the program is the fact that it has reduced the recidivism rate by 90 percent of these individuals who receive these services," said Fischer-Culver.

If that program goes, Fischer-Culver says a lot more pressure will fall on the shoulders of the county jail and local hospitals.

"There's going to be that revolving door, there's going to be that financial expense. Basically, it's a shift in financial issues, if this court is not funded," said Fischer-Culver.

Officials say they if these services close, it won't be because of a lack of effort.

"Is it a done deal? Yes, it is a done deal, but I'm ready to let it be a done deal," said Kathy Roberts.

Siouxland Mental Health is working with Woodbury County to find funding to preserve some of these programs. The cuts will go into effect on July 1, unless the Iowa legislature restores the funds.

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