The economy is taking its toll on funding for mental health services across the country.

Uninsured patients are waiting until the need becomes so great that they have no choice but to seek treatment at a hospital, which is costing them big bucks.

Dr. Debra Wentz, chief executive officer of New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies,  says New Jersey has been fortunate in that both the current administration with Governor Christie and prior administrations has recognized the importance of services for people with mental health and addiction issues. 

"As a result, while the need has always been greater than funding for prevention and treatment, we have not seen in New Jersey the substantial cuts that we have seen across the nation."

But she cautions that with the continuing economic downturn, emergency rooms are filling up quickly.

"People who have lost their job and don't have a primary care physician are turning to the ER because they are open 24 hours a day and they can get the help and treatment that they need."

And next year could be worse.

"The economy isn't improving as rapidly as we had hoped, and 2012 could be worse because many mental health agenices are cutting programs because they simply don't have the money. We hope that Governor Christie recognizes the need to keep the funding going to keep these services operational because without it, many patients will have no other option but to head to the ER."