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Faith leaders say millions allocated for mental health in state's budget isn't enough

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Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-28 23:23:57-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The 2023 Indiana legislative session is over, and lawmakers worked well into the early morning hours to pass a state budget.

Indiana will give $100 million for mental health services and resources over the next two years.

Governor Eric Holcomb said he will sign the budget, but faith leaders don’t think that is enough money to address mental health issues across the state.

Faith in Indiana, a community justice organization, gathered outside the statehouse to protest the amount of money allocated for mental health while also celebrating the passing of Senate Bill 1.

SB 1 is the behavioral health matters bill, which will establish a 24/7 suicide hot-line. There will be a mobile crisis team to respond to mental health incidents among other things.

“$100 million is nothing to sneeze at,” Andre Stoner said. “The first time in almost 20 years that there wasn’t stagnant or declining funding from the state on mental health.”

However, supporters say they needed $260 million from the state.

“Right now, we don’t have an infrastructure so that when someone is in need, they have a number to call — someone to come and a safe place to go,” Stoner said.

Anne Buchholz knows firsthand how a mobile crisis team can help. Her daughter battled a drug addiction.

“If 988 and the crisis response team had been fully funded and running, she [her daughter] would have had a number to call,” Buchholz said.

Buchholz says at times in the middle of the night, she had to respond to her daughter calling for help.

“There would be these phone calls at night where there would be something wrong,” Buchholz said.

Legislative leaders have said it costs the state yearly for untreated mental illness.

But faith leaders say the $260 million would actually solve issues.

“Because the Republican leadership decided to not fully fund the mental health system, some of our family members will be left behind and left for dead,” Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund said.

Holcomb addressed the concerns from folks in an early morning media briefing after the session adjourned.

“Having another $100 million going to mental health allows us to be well on our way down that road to making sure we can respond to those who need help,” Holcomb said. “People’s lives are at risk.”

If you’re going through a mental health crisis or feel suicidal, call 288. It will offer a direct connection to care and support for anyone experiencing these issues.