Due to lack of response, states tweak requests for mental health aid in the Gulf…wait, whadda ya mean, “if?”

US Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, right before she gives BP, the "big out"

British Petroleum, finally addressing calls for funding to provide mental health assistance to residents of the Gulf Coast has requested that Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi rewrite their requests. The company says it is not qualified to review multiple grant applications for programs that vary in scope and duration, in addition to separate requests from some local governments and nonpublic entities.

Federal Health and Human Services states they will provide a template to the five states to provide a uniform application.

BP spokesman Richard Judy says the company is developing a comprehensive plan on community outreach and nonprofit support across the Gulf Coast, but he wouldn’t directly respond to questions about the money sought by the states.

From the outset, this appears to be a stalling technique, as anyone who works in social services understands only half the battle is working with people, while the other, oftentimes more difficult part of the job is navigating red tape attached to funding, or getting the funding at all. The bureaucratic process is a long one, and it wouldn’t be difficult for a company to duck inside the maze. Louisiana Health Secretary Alan Levine warned of this very problem, that BP could be using a new bureaucratic process to stonewall pending requests, “I’m very concerned that BP is just hiding behind federal agencies to slow this down,” said Levine.

Local health providers have been assured by US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin that the Obama Administration will press BP to provide aid, though Benjamin did add, “We won’t stop looking (for money) if BP says no.”

Wait a minute – “If” BP says, “no?” This sounds as if the Obama Administration is hedging their bets in the middle of negotiation.

As shared in a previous post, British Petroleum has a very important reason to deny these requests:  Mental health care is not covered under the oil pollution act passed in 1990 by Congress. If British Petroleum pays for these services as part of the BP Catastraphuk cleanup, they will be setting new precedent, a case to be referred to by any community after any future oil spill, by any company.

That being said, a sense of confidence is hardly boosted when the Surgeon General of the United States says “if” BP agrees to provide funding and I would suspect there are many mental health providers throughout the Gulf Coast who might share this concern. Because of the recession, too many organizations nationwide have seen funding for needed programs dry up or not come at all at exactly the time they are needed most. This isn’t the time to repeat the pattern in the Gulf Coast. 

Read the article…

States tweak requests for mental health aid addressing Gulf of Mexico oil spill stress

Have an emotionally balanced day.

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