Representative Helton & Senator Gardenhire,
Before Covid-19 upended everything, you were gracious enough to meet with me when I visited your Nashville offices in February when I participated in Nami TN’s Day on the Hill, to advocate for better mental health care. Thank you for your time.
Mental Illness is a Serious Issue.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 46 million American adults lived with a mental illness in 2017. That’s almost 20% of our adult population. Furthermore, over 4% of US adults suffered from a serious mental crisis. Since Tennessee has almost 9 million residents, we can assume that over 360,000 of our neighbors suffer from serious mental conditions. And Covid-19 has only made this suffering worse. As I have written to you in the past, my wife (Lauren) is one of these adults.
You may recall that in the summer of 2019, Lauren suffered from a mental health crisis, and assaulted me. When I yelled to the neighbors to call 911, I knew that it was imperative that she receive treatment from a mental hospital. But unfortunately, the responding police officers didn’t agree, and they hauled her off to jail.
We Need More Funding for Mental Health Initiatives.
Lauren’s story is a classic example of why it is crucial that Tennessee directs more funding towards Crisis Intervention Teams and for mental health programs. Crisis Intervention Teams are made up of police officers who get specialized training on how to deal with situations involving someone experiencing a mental health crisis. The officers who responded that evening were clearly not trained to realize Lauren needed medical attention.
So I’m writing once again to ask for this funding.
Additionally, I ask that you direct more funding towards substance abuse and prevention programs. My cousin died, just 2 months ago, due to an accidental overdose. He was one of millions of people affected by the Opioid Crisis. He wanted to live, and he had recently completed rehab. Unfortunately, this was not enough. The outcome was what nobody wanted.
Thank you for your time, and thank you for your service to the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County.