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Increase Awareness, Funding for Mental Health Initiatives

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.

The first full week of October is Mental Health Awareness Week. Today, Saturday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day.

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 is one of these adults.

You may recall that in the summer of 2019, she 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.

David White


Oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act

My name is David, and I’m a registered voter in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and I’m writing to urge you to vote NOT on the Better Care Reconciliation Act. I, and people I am extremely close to, would be directly and negatively impacted by this legislation. We have been sick – through no fault of our own.

My Personal Story:
In 2004, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. That experience taught me a lot about the conventional American health care system. Concepts such as seeking a 2nd (or even a 3rd) opinion to a major diagnosis, maintaining a healthy diet, and making my own informed decisions (and not blindly following the advice of a doctor) are second nature to me now.

I was originally misdiagnosed with a more aggressive form of lymphoma than the one I actually had, and narrowly avoided 2 years of chemotherapy and monthly hospitalizations with spinal taps. In reality, I only needed a small handful of treatments, which were finished 6 months after they started.

My Wife’s Story:
Several years ago, my wife, Lauren, was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. After two hospitalizations and spending years in counseling and taking toxic medication, Lauren decided to pursue alternative approaches to her health. Over the last two years, Lauren has maintained an incredibly strict nutrition plan which has done wonders. She is stable, has been off traditional medications for months, and feels better than she has felt in years.

However, Bipolar is a chronic disease, and when all else fails, expensive medications can stabilize a patient. When needed, these medications are a good and necessary thing. Through no fault of her own, my wife has a chronic, life-long disease.

My Niece’s Story:
A few years ago, my sister gave birth to a feisty girl named Annie. Unfortunately, as the doctors discovered at the 20-week pre-natal exam, the left side of Annie’s heart wasn’t growing. It was completely missing. Through no fault of her own, Annie was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Through no fault of her own, Annie has a pre-existing condition and will need to take medications and monitor her pulse for her entire life.

These illnesses are not our fault. Yet, according to the Congressional Budget Office, all of us might lose health insurance coverage if the Better Care Reconciliation Act becomes law.

What’s more, the CBO says:

  • 22 million Americans could lose coverage over the next 10 years
  • People with disabilities could lose access to Medicaid
  • The elderly will be charged exorbitant rates of up to 5x higher than younger people

This bill claims to be “better” for the American people.

While the ACA is not perfect and certainly needs to be modified, the BCRA is nothing of the sort that helps every day Americans. The BCRA is harmful to me, my wife, my niece, the disabled, the elderly, and the poor.

In short, it is an assault on the lives and the health of all Americans.

I urge you and your colleagues to vote NO.

David White