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In Shift, Most States Increase Mental Health Spending

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A new report finds that mental health budgets increased for the 2014 fiscal year in 37 states.

A new report finds that mental health budgets increased for the 2014 fiscal year in 37 states. (NAMI)

After years of state spending cuts, mental health budgets increased in 37 states this year, according to a new report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Arguably the most notable development was that Texas increased mental health spending by $259 million over two years, the largest increase in its history,” NAMI said in a statement accompanying the report. South Carolina, which had cut mental health programs the deepest in recent years, was also among those states to increase funding this year.

Overall, the increased investment in mental health, spurred in part by the deadly shootings last year in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., represents a dramatic reversal from recent years. Between 2009 and 2012, state spending in mental health services dropped by $4.35 billion.

According to NAMI, only six states decreased mental health funding this year — Alaska, Wyoming, Nebraska, Louisiana, North Carolina and Maine.

Aside from money, the NAMI report said states enacted other measures related to mental health. Five states passed legislation to improve the early identification of mental illness in children and youth. Seventeen states adopted laws to tighten restrictions on gun ownership by those considered dangerously mentally ill. And 19 states tinkered with laws pertaining to court-ordered treatment of those with mental illness.

Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

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