Montana Public Radio

Mental Health

Over coffee in Kalispell on Thursday, March 8, 2018, Grant Kier said he supported investing in preventive measures, like increasing access to mental health care to prevent school shootings and suicides.
Nicky Ouellet

Democratic Congressional candidate Grant Kier stumped in the Flathead Valley this week.

Kier had beers with 35 members of the Flathead Big Sky Rising advocacy group in Whitefish Wednesday night, and hosted coffee for a half-dozen Flathead Democrats in Kalispell Thursday.

Jennifer Munger holds a sign protesting state health deparment cuts in Helena, March 1, 2018. Munger says she's recently sober and wants other people with substance abuse issues to be able to get the same treatment she had.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Access to mental health services and addiction treatment, something that has never been great in Montana, could see a significant funding reduction next month as the state health department reduces its substance disorder services.

"If I wouldn’t have had that I probably wouldn’t be alive today. They saved my life," Jennifer Munger says.

A few days before Christmas the state health department announced it would end contracts with non-profit companies that help people with developmental disabilities. Now, an online petition posted last week protesting the cuts has gathered more than 11,000 signatures.

Montana DPHHS

The 10 percent cut to the state health department’s budget, part of an attempt to bring Montana’s overall state budget back into the black, is starting to sound less abstract.

Just before Christmas, the department announced it was cutting ties with four non-profit companies that help people with developmental disabilities.

State budgets.
(PD)

Montana is starting to feel the impact of budget cuts that lawmakers approved as a way to deal with the state's $227 million deficit. Here's a roundup of some of our reporting on the state budget cuts so far.

An woman holds a sign during a picket of Western Montana Mental Health Center in Missoula, Dec. 18, 2017, following state budget cuts to mental health services.
Olga Kreimer

One of Montana’s largest mental health care providers has confirmed that it’s cutting up to 50 case managers and community-based aides. Some of those employees and their supporters picketed Monday morning, protesting the layoff notices.

State budget cuts mean about 200 clients of one of Montana’s largest mental health care providers could lose their services next month. That’s according to employees of Western Montana Mental Health Center, who say they’re losing their jobs.

Employees say they were told yesterday that they’ll be out of a job in January.

Stressed? Science Says Take A Walk In The Woods

Oct 1, 2017
More and more research reveals time spent outdoors relieves stress and improves physical and emotional well-being.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-NC-2)

I feel the stress from the week lift off my shoulders as I breathe in the scent of ponderosa pine. Today, I have no papers to write, tests to take, or meetings to attend. This is my time to relax in the Montana wilderness. Even though I know that spending time in nature always makes me feel better, I don’t always take the time to immerse myself in it. And I’m not the only one. It seems fewer people escape from the human world while, ironically, more and more research reveals time spent in nature relieves stress and improves physical and emotional well-being.

 Montana’s Spending on substance use disorder treatment by funding source, fiscal year 2016
Montana Healthcare Foundation

There’s long been an imbalance in the number of Montanans who need help beating alcoholism and drug abuse and the amount of treatment programs available.

Lately, those consequences are showing up in the state’s foster care system. The number of children needing care due to drug use problems in their parents has doubled since 2010, and the number of babies born drug-affected has tripled since then.

Those numbers are from a new report by the Montana Healthcare Foundation, which also says the state now has a golden opportunity to dramatically increase the availability of drug and alcohol treatment services.

Efforts To Prevent Suicide Advance In Legislature

Mar 7, 2017
Young people who’ve experienced homelessness in Montana feel like they often fall through the cracks of programs designed to help kids fleeing abusive homes or needing a place to stay. Stock photo.
(PD)

A package of bills aimed at addressing youth suicide in Montana is working its way through the legislature. One of those bills, House Bill 381, would allow school districts to create policies and procedures for suicide prevention and response specific to their communities.

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