As a mother and public school teacher, every day I see firsthand why behavioral health matters. For most of his life, my son has struggled with behavioral health issues including ADHD and anxiety. Until we were able to find support providers to guide him and us through managing and working through his issues, he was unsuccessful in school and struggled with making friends and having self-esteem. I see this in my classroom with my students as well; kids who always walk with their heads down, who struggle to make eye contact or to make friends, who fear failure so much that they won’t even try, who post online questions like “Who will miss me when I’m gone?” and “Why do I even bother to live?” Whether it’s addiction, depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideations, with the right help, intervention, and support, people can learn to work through their problems and find ways to manage these challenges and still have happy, fulfilled lives.
- Incentivize careers in behavioral health so we have the support providers necessary across this state to help those in need. This is also a national issue, so I intend to work on legislation for this in Congress.
- Mandate mental and behavioral health professionals at all schools, from kindergarten through college. Students spend most of their days on school campuses; those campuses must be staffed with people who are trained to support students in need, including in crisis situations. Along with this, provide support and education programs for parents and guardians to help break the stigma of behavioral and mental health issues. Both are areas of focus I will be pushing legislation for when I’m in the House.
- Crack down on shoddy and for-profit “rehabilitation” programs that are not rooted in the research and professional practices for behavioral health and recovery.
- Push for innovation in recovery techniques that are best suited for the needs of individuals as opposed to using a one-size-fits-all approach.
If we open the conversation early, especially with students and parents in schools, we can begin to destigmatize behavioral and mental health issues. If we encourage more people to follow a career path to work with behavioral and mental health issues, we can open more doors to those who seek help but now can’t find it. We must also ensure there are enough providers for our veterans returning from combat who are still killing themselves at a rate of 22-23 a day. We must cut wait times by having more support professionals available in all of our towns. And this is a national issue, not just a local issue. We must face this issues at the national level and elect legislators willing to break the silence and end the stigma.
I intend to legislate for behavioral and mental health support and providers in schools. I also intend to legislate student loan and tax incentives for those who wish to go into careers in behavioral and mental health because we face a dire shortage of those professionals across this country.