Wyoming faces tough economic times, and state departments are making tough decisions on what to cut in the face of reduced revenues.

Mental health services are one of the places the state is looking to trim costs.

“These are some of the many very difficult choices that we’ll have to make,” Gov. Mark Gordon said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

State agencies have reduced budgets by 10% and identified another 10% they can cut, if needed. Gordon wasn’t specific on which mental health programs would be on the chopping block, but any reduction in services could be harmful in the face of a pandemic that has increased mental health issues.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found nearly half of Americans reported worsened mental health due to the outbreak. And a study from Everytown for Gun Safety estimated that the pandemic could lead to an extra 20 suicides by firearm per day.

Like other Mountain West states, Wyoming has one of the highest suicide rates in the United States. Because of the pandemic’s emotional strain, Gordon said, it was imperative to figure out how to continue mental health programs, despite the cuts.

“We’re looking for every way that we can extend these services and be able to make sure that we don’t leave gaps,” he said.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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