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Emotional testimony helps guide House committee approval of mental health care bill

A sign in a building window promoting mental health services.
FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
IPB News
An Indiana Behavioral Health Commission report said mental illness costs Indiana $4.2 billion per year.

Legislation to boost mental health care services unanimously cleared a House committee Tuesday amid emotional testimony from Hoosiers.

The bill, SB 1, is meant to help increase access to care through community mental health centers and provide resources for the 9-8-8 crisis response hotline.

Many of those who testified in support said the bill represents hope. Julie Henderson lost her daughter to an overdose years ago.

“I love this bill because it provides opportunities for people like me … to find care before we lose our loved ones,” Henderson said.

READ MORE: Legislative leaders say both chambers' mental health priorities will get funded

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Mental Health America of Indiana COO Stephanie Anderson said providing greater access to care helps all of Indiana.

“One in five Hoosiers – one in five – experience mental illness each year," Anderson said. "And quantified – and I’m going to repeat this number over and over again – that is $4.2 billion a year that it costs the state.”

The bill does not have any funding in it; that will be decided in the state budget.

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.