Who cares about mental health crisis?

Although we as a nation declare our concern for this country’s mental healthcare system, the only time our actions tend to reflect that is in the face of tragedy.

The most recent sense of urgency heightened following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting where 20 precious children and six adults were gunned down by Adam Lanza, who was not only diagnosed with autism but reportedly had a personality disorder.

This incident has brought attention to the need for improving our country’s mental healthcare system as well as spurring elected officials into supporting policies that promote this agenda.

One particular policy that merits such support is the Excellence in Mental Health Act. This policy seeks to ensure that mental health facilities are accessible throughout communities for those people in need of services.

Funding will also be made available for building new mental health facilities in areas where there are no treatment centers as well as funds for well-needed improvements to facilities already in existence.

In the state of Georgia, there are over 349,000 adults and 111,000 children who suffer from mental illnesses but only about 21 percent of this population actually receives treatment.

By improving the accessibility to mental health treatment facilities, the percentage of those receiving services will greatly increase.

The other critical issue concerning mental health services that this policy will address is the limitation of services for patients due to lack of funding. The Excellence in Mental Health Act will allow Medicaid reimbursements to cover well-needed services that were previously denied to those suffering with mental illnesses.

Although both Democratic and Republican politicians agree that the mental health crisis in this country desperately needs to be addressed, are they showing the importance of this bill by voting for it?

This bill has been introduced on more than one occasion by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and has “died” both times. It was reintroduced in February of this year and will hopefully reach the point of being enacted this time.

If we continue to ignore the importance of passing bills that ensure those suffering from depression, psychosis, or other mental illnesses receive adequate services, we put those individuals and our communities at risk of another tragedy.

To ensure access to mental health services for those in need and to avoid another devastating loss at the hand of someone without adequate treatment, find out if your local elected official supports this act and encourage them to do so.

Trish Stuart

Peachtree City, Ga.

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