New Hampshire State Mental Health Services

Assessing the Consequences of a Decade of Funding Cuts
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 1011-05
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This report analyzes data obtained through research of past literature, consumer satisfaction survey analysis, and original interviews with mental health providers. The objective is to provide relevant information about past and present mental health services in New Hampshire, the impact of recent budget cuts on the system, and the broader implications of reduced services.

New Hampshire has only one state-run public hospital that provides mental health services, the New Hampshire Hospital (NHH). In addition to the NHH, the state contracts out to ten mental health centers in the state for community services.1 These ten centers are private, non-profit organizations. Over the past decade, the demand for mental health services in New Hampshire has greatly increased while the system has been affected by numerous budget cuts. This has led to reduced or closed programs, staff shortages, layoffs, and extended waiting lists. In addition to direct impacts on the mental health system, the budget cuts have also led to an increased usage in other areas such as correctional facilities, the judiciary system, and emergency rooms.

In this report, we first examine the organization and funding of New Hampshire’s mental health system. We then explore how cuts in funding have impacted the mental health system’s patients, staff members, and programs, as well as the impact in emergency rooms and correctional facilities. Next, we analyze the state mandates that cause mental health centers to lose the most money, such as the requirement to serve under-insured and uninsured patients and provide emergency services 24 hours a day. We conclude by comparing New Hampshire’s mental health system to those of nearby states, and by providing several possible policy options.