South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford
United States of America

In South Carolina:

•1 in 5 children will experience mental illness at some stage of their lives.

•20% of South Carolina children between the ages of 9-17 meet diagnostic criteria for mental illness. 12% have substantial functional impairment due to their mental illness and 8% have extreme functional impairment due to their mental illness.

•According to the SC Department of Education, Office of Exceptional Children 101,731 schools school students identified with disabilities of these 5,786 are identified as Emotionally Disabled and 6,817 as Other Health Impaired (this includes ADHD, Bipolar, Depression), and 47,876 are Learning Disabled, many with co-existing mental health needs

•32% of students in SC do not finish high school. Out of these 23% have been identified to be affected by mental health disorders

•In a random study 72% of SCDJJ youth meet full criteria for at least one mental health disorder. Of these 20% met the criteria for severe disorder and 50% have substance abuse problems

•Mental illness is a major risk factor for suicide among youth which is the 3rd leading cause of death among youth for children ages 9-17

With the current budget cuts we are in danger of loosing critical programs such as WRAP services and school based mental health services, and more. Sign now to urge our Govenor to reconsider his devastating cuts!

Governor Mark Sanford
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12267
Columbia, SC 29211

January 21, 2009

Governor Sanford:
We the undersigned, as families and concerned citizens, urge you to reconsider your administration’s recent decision with regards to cuts in the budgets of the Departments of Mental Health and to strongly urge you to forego any other reductions in funding for South Carolina’s behavioral health system for children and youth.

While we can appreciate the need for responsible spending at a time when we are all challenged by economic conditions cutting behavioral health for our children and youth only leads to increased pressure on an already strained system of care and results in increased costs in areas such as state hospitals, community emergency services and community hospitals, the criminal justice system, schools and the child welfare system. If the goal is to do more with less in times of economic difficulty, cutting funding to mental health services is counterproductive.

Research has proven that services in the community are far more cost effective to states than the high cost of hospitalization, residential treatment and worst case scenario incarceration. If children do not receive the intervention and treatment at the community level we risk spending tens of thousands of dollars to treat one child when the same amount or less can be used to treat many children.

Clearly, these are difficult economic times. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that meeting the basic needs of the most fragile children among us has to be the priority of government, even if it means that additional cuts are made elsewhere in the budget. Our system is already struggling to keep up with the growing demand for services in counties throughout South Carolina.

Governor Sanford we implore you to prioritize services for South Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens as you make your budget decisions.

The Mental Health Budget Cuts Affect the Lives of Children petition to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was written by Natasha Lyles and is in the category Health at GoPetition.