MENTAL HEALTH POLICY AND ADVOCACY
Below are a few policies that MHA is following for the 2021 Sessions. Information will be updated as the bills and acts progress through the legislature.
iNDIANA LEGISLATIVE UPDATES - 2021 SESSION
UPDATE FOR 9-8-8
On February 15th, HB 1468 was passed by the Committee of Public health. Brandi Christiansen, President & CEO of MHA-WVR did testify before the committee in support of HB 1468 as it was written. After this committee reading, HB 1468 was read before the House of Representatives concluding with 95 yeas and 0 nays. This means the bill did pass and has made it through the Indiana House of Representatives.
The advocacy and support from the community as well as Brandi’s testimony was a crucial step. Community support and involvement is essential so your voices can be heard on the needs of those impacted by this bill. We will provide an update as the bill continues to progress through the Senate. As of March 3rd, HB1468 was referred to the Committee on Health and Provider services.
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 designating 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline became law in October of 2020. In January of 2021, Representative Davisson introduced House Bill 1468 to the Indiana legislature on how Indiana will manage oversight, coordination and designation of the crisis centers who will receive calls from the national 9-8-8 number. In addition, HB 1468 also establishes a 9-8-8 trust fund which is essential to securing a permanent source of funding.
Mental Health America - Wabash Valley Region (MHA-WVR) and A Better Way Services, Inc (Muncie, IN) are the only two full time organizations in Indiana who currently answer calls from the National Suicide Prevention Line (NSPL), as well as local crisis lines. We are the first step in a continuum of service that must be put into place in Indiana, to allow for full care of those in crisis.
By the end of 2022 after the 9-8-8 number is fully implemented it is projected that our Crisis Center call volume will increase by 4 times the current volume – that is approximately 25,000 callers in crisis a year. It is imperative that we are proactive and clearly establish a statewide coordinated infrastructure to prepare for this easier way to connect those in need to suicide prevention and mental health crisis.
Our Crisis Intervention Specialists are Hoosiers helping Hoosiers who understand the importance of answering that call and being there for that person in crisis. This bill is a crucial step toward ensuring that our Indiana Crisis Centers can continue to operate 24/7/365, to deliver the same quality of service and most importantly, to be that lifeline for Hoosiers experiencing the darkest time in their life.
- Suicide is currently the 3rd leading cause of death for Indiana residents ages 10-54 and the current COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the risk of suicide due to social disconnection, depression, anxiety, loss, grief, and the lack of health care access. Unfortunately, our current crisis response system does not effectively meet the needs of these Hoosiers in a cost effective, timely, and sufficient manner.
- The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020, designating 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline, became law in October of 2020. The legislation also broadens the scope of work of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) structure to incorporate a more comprehensive coordinated approach to all mental health and substance use crises, including an expansion of services provided by the 9-8-8 hotline centers, an increased collaboration between 911 and 9-8-8 to provide more options for those in crisis, the creation of mobile crisis and crisis stabilization units, and the utilization of peers as part of the overall crisis continuum of care. The transition to 9-8-8 and expansion of our current crisis response system must occur by July of 2022. Currently we only have two full time NSPL crisis call centers and it is expected that with the transition to 9-8-8, calls will double across the nation, including Indiana, within the first year of implementation.
The state budget for mental health services will be significantly impacted by House Bill 1001. This bill will cut mental health services by $26 million which includes cuts to recovery programs ($10M) and addiction services ($8M). Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health needs have increased greatly in the state and in our community. These needs include depression, anxiety alcoholism, drug overdoses, and suicides. If the budget is cut, this can increase expenses for hospital admissions and incarcerations. Here at MHA, a budget cut this significant can alter our outreach to the community. Valued education and supportive services could be decreased, which in turn can have significant impacts for individuals’ seeking help with provider referrals or impacts on calling our 24/7 crisis hotline. Mental health support is imperative statewide and in our community; HB 1001 can devastate our current and future resources. Currently HB 1001 was passed by the Indiana House of Representatives with 65 yeas and 30 nays. The bill has progressed to the Senate and referred to the Committee of Appropriations. You can follow all the details of the bill here.
What are the next steps? Community involvement and your voices being heard. Mental Health America - Wabash Valley Region in Lafayette is affiliated with Mental Health America Indiana. You can go to this link to provide support and fill out a form to email the State Senator with your support in the amendment of the bill to full restore the funds that will be cut by HB 1001. Thank you for your consideration of HB 1001. Your support can truly make a difference to the many Hoosiers struggling throughout the State of Indiana.
The most recent change impacting communities and healthcare services due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the advancement of Telemedicine and Telehealth services. HB 1286 provides advancements in the Telehealth services to not only prescribers, but licensed practitioners. This bill can impact mental health services with providing more access to appointments. Crucial conversations will always be best with a in person setting with outpatient services, however, with the increase in demand for all healthcare entities, Telehealth can help provide a bridge for that waiting gap in service. HB 1286 will allow a more broaden network for healthcare services and allow appropriate standards of practice to be in place whether in person or through online settings. As of February 24th, this bill has been passed through the Indiana House of Representatives and referred to the Senate through the Committee on Health and Provider Services.
Mental health services and early intervention is very important for children, specifically by age 14. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 children have a mental health condition, but very few receive and seek out treatment. SB 19 can provide some aid for children in grade six through twelve, which would be middle school through high school. This bill requires public schools have information containing for a suicide prevention hotline phone number and human trafficking hotline phone number (both providing support 24/7, seven days a week).
The following information would be local, state, and national as well as printed on the student identification card or as a sticker to apply to the card. This change for schools would need to be implemented by June 30, 2022 if the bill is passed. Currently the bill was passed by the Senate and referred to the House through the Committee on Education on February 23rd. SB 19 is important for MHA as it provides the community and children in our neighboring schools an additional resource when faced directly with thoughts of suicide or concerns of human trafficking.
FEDERAL CONGRESS LEGISLATIVE UPDATES - 2021 SESSION
The Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act
H.R. 1324 is a bill to address suicide screening and assessment in emergency departments. This bill was introduced to the House and then referred to the committee on Energy and Commerce on February 25th. The goal of this bill is to have a grant for emergency departments to develop protocols for identifying, assessing, and treating individuals at risk for suicide. In the United States, suicide has been placed as the 10th leading cause of death and has increased 31% since 2001. The proposed bill will extend further services when an individual with suicidal ideation presents to the emergency department and may prevent future deaths. MHA Lafayette is watching this bill because it can create a drastic change in suicide prevention nationally and statewide if passed and implemented. Information from the legislative bill authors can be found here .
The Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act
H.R. 1475 was presented to further establish equity with the ongoing disparities in mental health’s youth from the increasing suicide rate in minorities. The bill was introduced to the House and then referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce on March 1st. This bill was previously introduced in 2019 and passed through the house in 2020, however it did not get passed by the Senate. The bill was reintroduced and would establish a grant for research, improve provider care giving on a multicultural level, develop training programs, and build outreach programs to reduce stigma. H.R 1475 is important to us here at MHA Lafayette, because a grant to increase outreach can help decrease national suicide rates as well as here in our state/community. More information can be found here.
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
H.R. 1667 was also introduced to the house and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce on March 8th. This bill was created after a Physician died by suicide during the hardship of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The goal is to provide funding, best practice updates, and awareness of healthcare suicide prevention. There will always be burnout and high stress within healthcare settings, but Covid-19 increased these issues. Training in suicide prevention is important to MHA Lafayette and this bill is supported here because it can prevent future deaths of healthcare professionals. Multiple Senators and Representatives are behind this bill, including Indiana Senator Todd Young. More information can be found here.