Pioneer House Staff, Residents Protest State Budget Cuts
If passed by Legislature, the downtown Peabody non-profit that helps people who suffer from developmental disabilities would see its budget reduced by $3 million.
On Thursday, April 7, staff and members from the Pioneer House in downtown Peabody joined other mental health treatment advocates from across the state at the Statehouse. The rally was to protest the proposed FY12 budget cuts to mental health services include a $3 million, or 17 percent,lose reduction in funding to Department of Mental Health (DMH) Clubhouses.
This proposed reduction is part of a trifecta of slated DMH cuts, including an elimination of 160 psychiatric inpatient beds and reductions to mental health community services—totaling $21.4 million reduction in services to the mentally ill.
In downtown Peabody, The Pioneer House is a day-treatment clubhouse that provides services to 1,000 North Shore residents per year, with a monthly attendance of approximately 150 area members—all of whom are recovering from persistent mental health conditions.
In addition to providing daily structured programming, a hot lunch and a support network, the clubhouse helps members with job training and work experience, education and housing. Statewide, the DMH clubhouses serve more than 8,300 Massachusetts residents. In FY`09, members earned $13 million via employment opportunities across the State. On April 5, more than 38 Mass. Businesses will be recognized for their support and employment of people with mental illness.
D., a member of Peabody’s Pioneer House says: “Before coming here every day, I didn’t leave my house for two years and no one seemed to notice or care. Now, Pioneer House has given me a place to go. Without it I would be sitting in my room with the T.V. on mute.”
“This cut to clubhouses poses a serious threat to thousands of people who rely on these services for their wellbeing,” said Reva Stein, executive director of the Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition (MCC).
Clubhouses also save public money. According to Stein, “Clubhouses are one of the most cost-effective mental health services. A person can attend a clubhouse every day for an entire year for the same cost that it takes to treat that same person in an inpatient setting for three days.”
“Personally, Pioneer House has kept me out of hospitals, inpatient and outpatient, for about three years,” says E., another member of Pioneer House. “It has also resulted in my employment and has given me opportunity to socialize with folks struggling with similar issues as me.”
Submitted by Áine Greaney, director of communications, CAB Health & Recovery Services and Health & Education Services