One would have hoped that the funding picture would look brighter after all these years. However, sadly, just the reverse is true.
With Arizona’s financial problems have come reductions in funding to support public, non-profit mental health services. Prevention programs, which provide public education related to mental illness, were severely impacted. Two years ago, Arizona Department of Health Services was forced to significantly reduce available services for seriously mentally ill individuals not qualifying for AHCCCS.
Were Gerardo still alive, this would have been his State Designation; his services today would be much less comprehensive than they were at the time of his suicide.
The recent tragic shootings highlight a need for more comprehensive services to those individuals struggling with serious mental illness. We encourage our fellow citizens to let their voices be heard with our local legislators. Within a crisis is also opportunity!
/s/ Phil Niece,
Gerardo Jr.’s counselor/therapist at the time of his death (1992)