Alexandria, VA – Today Mental Health America recognized six state legislators as part of the group of MHA’s 2021 Legislative Champions. Each was honored virtually at MHA’s first of two summer Regional Policy Council (RPC) meetings.
The six legislators recognized were:
- Massachusetts Senator Julian Cyr, Senate Assistant Majority Whip and Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. He has worked tirelessly on rental subsidies for people with mental health conditions who might not otherwise qualify, screening for traumatic stress in pediatric settings, and telehealth legislation.
- Massachusetts Representative Marjorie Decker, Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. She has introduced bills to strengthen and expand access to mental healthcare, and to establish an advisory council on school-based mental health. She is also a strong advocate for mental health supports benefitting families and children.
- Pennsylvania Representative Dan Miller, member of the Government Oversight and Rules Committees. He hosts an annual disability and mental health summit where professionals, family members, individuals receiving services, advocates, and community leaders come together to exchange ideas and information.
- North Carolina Representative John Autry, member of the Appropriations Committee. He sponsored a bill that would allocate funds to establish four peer-run wellness centers in his state. He also sponsored legislation aimed at establishing non-police units to address non-violent, non-criminal 911 calls.
- Ohio Senator Nickie Antonio, Ranking Member on the Health, Transportation, and Joint Medicaid Oversight Committees. She sponsored a bill giving a property tax exemption to supportive housing properties used by individuals living with a mental disability or substance abuse disorder, along with Sen. Bob Hackett.
- Ohio Senator Bob Hackett, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Insurance. He sponsored a bill giving a property tax exemption to supportive housing properties used by individuals living with a mental disability or substance abuse disorder, along with Sen. Nickie Antonio.
Five more state legislators will be recognized virtually as MHA’s 2021 Legislative Champions on August 3 at MHA’s second of two summer RPC meetings.
Those five legislators are:
- Oklahoma Senator Julia Kirt, member of both the Appropriations and Health and Human Services Committees, as well as Co-Chair of the Mental Health Caucus. She facilitated the creation of this new bipartisan, bicameral mental health caucus along with Rep. Josh West.
- Oklahoma Representative Josh West, Majority Leader, as well as Chair of the General Government Committee, as well as Co-Chair of the Mental Health Caucus. He facilitated the creation of this new bipartisan, bicameral mental health caucus along with Sen. Julia Kirt.
- Texas Senator Beverly Powell, member of both the Education and Health and Human Services Committees. She has prioritized legislative work on school mental health services, mental health supports in classrooms, and suicide prevention education.
- Texas Representative Toni Rose, member of both the Appropriations and Health and Human Services Committees. She authored a bill extending Medicaid benefits from two to six months for new mothers postpartum.
- Texas Representative Julie Johnson, member of the Appropriations Committee and Vice Chair of the Women's Health Caucus. She authored a bill ensuring payment parity between in-person and telehealth visits. She has also prioritized building the mental health workforce.
“NCSL appreciates the work done by all legislators on issues important to their constituents. If the last 18 months has taught us anything, it's that no one is immune to how dramatic life changes can affect our mental health,” said Karmen Hanson, Associate Director, Behavioral Health and Pharmaceutical Topics at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“So many of these legislators come from a place of lived experience and we are heartened that they have shared their stories in addition to demonstrating a deep commitment to making mental health systems work better for their constituents,” said Debbie Plotnick, Vice President for State and Federal Advocacy at Mental Health America.
Today’s RPC meeting, From Diversion to Deflection: Rethinking Crisis, was held online and can be replayed here. The next RPC Meeting, From Deflection to Prevention: Early Intervention Strategies, will be held on Tuesday, August 3 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm ET. Registration is open now.
About Mental Health America
Mental Health America (MHA) is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal. Learn more at MHAnational.org.