Mental illness at the forefront of discussions in Texas - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Mental illness at the forefront of discussions in Texas

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Texas - Mental illness is the focus of attention after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

A new report ranks Texas last in the country when it comes to funding those diagnosed with a mental illness.

Ever since an official said gunman Adam Lanza had Asperger's syndrome, it has stirred up some controversy.

According to the CDC, Asperger's is within the autism spectrum of diseases and can cause communication, behavioral and social challenges in the people who have it.

In response, many experts and parents who have children with Asperger's say there is no correlation between autism and violence and say autism is a developmental disorder, not a mental illness.

This has stirred up discussion about whether state's are adequately funded to treat those diagnosed and whether they provide enough services.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities says the national average for spending on mental health services is $109 a person.

Texas currently spends $36 a person.

Some organizations are hoping to make a difference by partnering with local entities like law enforcement and jails that deal with mental illness on a daily basis.

It's believed the effort would appeal to Texas lawmakers who will soon set the state's budget for the next two years.

Access to counselors and psychiatric care could soon be in danger for many of the near half-million Texans living with a mental illness.

Ahead of the legislative session beginning next month, the state is recommending a 2.1 million dollar cut to community mental health services for adults.

That is on top of the 24.8 million dollars in cuts from the last session.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities say this includes resources like medication management, counseling services and even some crisis resolution services.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says there is a big need for more funding.

Here are some statistics to put things in perspective; one in four U.S. adults experiences a diagnosable mental illness annually, 6 percent have a serious mental illness and one in five children in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental health disorder.