Clients and staff at Volunteers of America fear cuts to mental h - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Clients and staff at Volunteers of America fear cuts to mental health and addictive services

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

At Volunteers of America clients and staff make posters to carry at a rally on the Capitol steps.  They want those with the power to give and take away services to know how important they are for those with mental health and substance abuse problems.

Thirty three year old Tamika Perrodin  struggles from severe brain injury and mental illness.

"PTSD, anxiety, bipolar, depression and, ADHD," she said. "You're labeled.  You're sometimes treated differently. It's like you're an outcast. 'Oh, she's crazy. I don't want her or I don't want to be around her. She's bipolar.  She may just flip out.'" Perrodin said.

She says without behavioral health services she and others face a difficult and uncertain future:

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous because we have so many people, not just in Lake Charles and surrounding cities but the United States that have mental illnesses that are untreated," said Perrodin.

VOA Regional Director and licensed professional counselor, Marcell Gary, says cutting services hurts everyone.

"Somebody that's not taking their medication, these people are going through psychosis.  They're hearing voices that aren't there, seeing people that aren't there. So, they may walk around and hear things that people don't hear and so that can lead them to do things that are  dangerous to themselves or other people," she said.

Plus Gary says with medicaid cuts about 500 staff statewide would lose their jobs.

Meanwhile, Perrodin is one of their success stories.  She wants a successful and meaningful career.

"There will come a day when I have enough strength to go back and get my masters degree  and above all that, I want to become a lawyer. It's not like a wish, a dream.  It's going to happen," said Perrodin.

And she thinks her struggle with mental illness will make her more effective as an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves...

But for now Perrodin and others here hope to send a message: that behavioral health matters.

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