Dozens of locals on long wait lists for mental health appointments
By Christine McCarthy
WACO- About 75 people who need mental health appointments in the Waco area are on a wait list, and they could end up waiting years to see a professional.
Heart of Texas Region Mental Health Mental Retardation Center (MHMR) serves thousands of people in six Central Texas counties for a variety of mental health needs. But a lack of state funding over the last few years, while MHMR is already over budget, means dozens of patients who do not have Medicaid or another pay source end up waiting a long time to get help.
Director of Crisis Services, Dana LaFayette, says some patients become frustrated that they cannot get the help that they need for their lives and their families' lives.
The patients on the wait list have had initial appointments but are now looking for regular, continued help with major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
However, MHMR will schedule an appointment or find another resource for patients going through an emergency.
"There's a good amount of funding that goes toward crisis services," LaFayette says. "But it's very important that we're able to maintain some ongoing services to help people once they come through the crisis, to then be able to maintain, so that we can prevent the next crisis."
MHMR checks in on patients on the wait list every month to three months by phone or face-to-face to make sure nothing major has changed in their lives.
A new MHMR Open Access program will allow patients to get screened more quickly, but, if they qualify for MHMR services, the list could get longer.
LaFayette hopes the community will contact their lawmakers to ask for more funding for potentially life-saving services.
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