Blunt thinks lawmakers will address mental health department next year
By Matt Sepic, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – Governor Matt Blunt says the Missouri Legislature may consider changes to the state's mental health system when lawmakers meet next year.
Last month, the governor appointed a special task force to study problems at the mental health department. That was after a newspaper investigation found thousands of cases of abuse and neglect at homes for the retarded and mentally ill.
But Blunt says he wants the investigation to run its course before lawmakers do anything. "I've asked legislators not to rush into anything with any proposed legislation," Blunt said Friday. "Let's see what the commission comes up with and reports to me that I can then forward to them. And that's an important commission for them to evaluate."
Mental health advocate Natalie Woods says she supports the investigation. But she says problems at state-operated facilities should not be used as an excuse to close them down.
"There's abuse in private care probably more so than in state habilitation centers because the lack of scrutiny in private care is not even comparable," said Woods.