I am writing this today in response to the proposed state budget cut of $8.3 million to behavioral health services in Alaska. My name is Chaz Hart and I work with the population this cut would affect. Just Monday night (March 4) I was able to start a group that had never been done before in the state of Alaska. It is a social-skill building program for young men who experience Asperger’s, autism, and/or are just a little quirky.
The faces of those young men brought hope to me that times are changing, that no longer will this population get shuffled around and treated different just for the “bad cards” they have been dealt in life. For one of those young men, I can say to the best of my knowledge this was the first time he had not been “that weird kid in the corner,” but just a young man.
How can we as a state with one of the highest percentages of mental illness cut funding for treatment of it?
— Charles R. Hart