Area Leaders Gather for Legislative Tour and Luncheon

Budget short-falls are expected to affect many agencies across the state, and mental health services are at the top of that list.

To speak out against the proposed 10 to 15 percent budget cuts, area leaders gathered today for a legislative tour and luncheon.

They toured The Helen Farabee Center.  Both the center and the North Texas State Hospital could see a loss of about $1 million in funding.

Startling numbers like that prompted the center to hold a tour -- inviting legislative officials to come and see the center itself and just how important it is to the community.

A recovering addict and now a new man.

"They save lives here, they gave me a life," said Tom Stewart, a recovering addict, who utilizes the resources of the Helen Farabee Center.

Stewart call himself a miracle after living a life of drugs and alcohol.  Now with The Helen Farabee Center facing budget cuts Stewart wants everyone to know how important the facility is in changing lives.

"I'm grateful for this program and the staff.  If there's anyway at all to keep this going, we need this," said Stewart.

Stewart and many others spoke in front of a room full of people to show support for The Helen Farabee Center and local area leaders, like Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham and Senator Craig Estes, took a tour of the facilities.
 
"It was really to educate our legislative delegation about the services that the center provides, the value that it brings to the community, the relationships and collaborative efforts that occur," said Robby Atkins, Executive Director, Helen Farabee Center.

The Helen Farabee Center is one of 39 mental health centers that will likely see a loss of funding, thus resulting in a reduction of their services, leaving mental health patients to turn to other areas that would create a ripple effect.

"They're going to show up in emergency rooms more often.  They're gonad show up in the criminal justice system.  They're going to be utilizing other community resources," said Atkins.

That is something that could be a problem for our local deputies.

"It takes an individual to get to that point and understand that I need help and we can't do that if we're throwing them all in prison," said Duke.

At the end of the tour Senator Craig Estes spoke a few words that made the presentation worth every minute.

"I'm on the Finance Committee and I will be advocating for you as best I can," said Senator Estes.

The Helen Farabee Regional MHMR services span through 19 Texoma counties.

The Department of State Health Services has outlined a total of $246 million dollars in budget cuts, $80 million is projected for mental health centers.