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Indiana faith leaders call for full funding of mental health crisis response system

Reverend Doctor Sarah Griffith Lund speaks at a lectern in the Indiana Statehouse. Behind her are other faith leaders. Lund is a White woman, with brunette hair.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund, at lectern, speaks about the importance of mental health crisis response services at a Statehouse press conference on Tuesday, Mar. 7, 2023. Behind her are fellow faith leaders, part of the advocacy group Faith In Indiana.

Indiana faith leaders say Hoosiers need and deserve better mental health crisis response services.

They’re calling on lawmakers to fully fund recommendations from the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission.

Faith leaders say millions of Hoosiers know someone who was or will be in need of mental health crisis services. For the Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund, that person was her father. He told her he was planning to die by suicide. She contacted the police – because there was no one else to call.

“My father deserved a person to care about him, not to lock him up and take him to jail, but a number to call for real help,” Lund said.

READ MORE: Senate committee advances mental health clinics bill, but strips out funding

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The advocacy group Faith In Indiana met with lawmakers and delivered a letter, calling on them to fully fund proposed legislation, SB 1, that would boost community mental health services and the 988 crisis response hotline.

“Not a dribble," said Angela Espada, Indiana Catholic Conference executive director. "Not seed money, to see how it’s going, but full and appropriate funding.”

Faith leaders say that means $130 million. So far, lawmakers have discussed no more than about $30 million.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.