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Yale Psychiatry residents, faculty oppose cuts to budget for mental health services

February 19, 2016
by Christopher Gardner

Five Yale Department of Psychiatry residents and three faculty members testified February 18 in Hartford in opposition to a proposal that would cut millions of dollars from the state budget for mental health services.

The five residents who spoke before the Legislature's Appropriations Committee were Chadrick Lane, MD; Jessica Isom, MD, MPH; Myra Mathis, MD; Oluwafikunmi Sobowale, MD; and Luming Li, MD; They were joined at the hearing by John Krystal, MD, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Chief of Psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital; Robert Malison, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit; and Vinod Srihari, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the STEP Program.

The Yale delegation urged committee members to maintain funding for mental health services in the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) budget. The governor's proposed budget eliminates millions of dollars in funding for mental health.

DMHAS and Yale collaborate to run the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC) in New Haven, which cares for more than 5,000 people a year. The facility provides services to people with mental illness, is a training center for researchers, and provides a setting to train young professionals how to care for people with mental illness. Yale Psychiatry residents train in the building.

"Please allow us to continue to serve and continue those collaborations going," Isom said.

Sobowale said he chose to train at Yale, in part, because of the programs offered at CMHC. "As someone who came for that, I really hope you will support an integrated health care system so it is not dismantled," he said.

Krystal testified that reducing services at CMHC would deprive many mentally ill people of treatment. He said CMHC has valuable programs, such as its Law and Psychiatry Division, that must be maintained.

The delegation's testimony may be viewed here on the Connecticut Network. Krystal's testimony is at 3 hours, 13 minutes of the video, and Malison and Srihari testify at 4:01. The residents testify at 5:31.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on February 19, 2016