TV 9 & 10: Accessing Mental Health Services May Get More Difficult in Budget Deal – 9/22/09: Ryan Raiche and Photojournalist Jeremy Erickson, a video interview with Greg Paffhouse, CEO and Signe Ruddy, Traverse House Director

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Budget talks continued in Lansing Tuesday, but it’s not real clear how much progress is being made.

Among the many areas likely to see cuts is the department that supports the state’s mental health services.

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, which covers a six-county region, expects a cut of at least a million dollars.

“We’ve been told to expect a 20 percent reduction up to a 57 percent reduction,” says Greg Paffhouse, CEO of the organization.

Paffhouse says the cuts being discussed would be the biggest reduction in the organization’s history. For the past nine months, they’ve been creating a plan to survive the financial loss, including cutting at least 16 positions.

Northern Lakes is waiting to see exactly what lawmakers agree before moving forward with the plan. Any cuts, Paffhouse says, will likely impact the people they serve.

“Accessibility in our system is going to be much more difficult,” he says.