Governor Lee's State of the State address and budget propose some positive steps

The governor's proposed investments in behavioral health and suicide prevention include:

  • $11 million in new funding to expand the Behavioral Health Safety Net to cover an additional 7,000 uninsured individuals living with serious mental illness

  • $1 million for a regional suicide prevention outreach program and a mental health promotion program for youth and young adults

These steps should be applauded, and to seriously address our state's mental health crisis and ensure that all Tennesseans have access to affordable, quality care we must go much further.

Today, 60 percent of Tennesseans with a mental health condition do not receive any treatment.

Rural hospital closures exacerbate rural mental health challenges where communities already face severe mental health workforce shortages.

There remain myriad barriers preventing far too many Tennesseans from accessing the mental health care they need- such as cost, stigma, bureaucracy, and a legislature that remains unwilling to consider serious solutions or to join the 36 states that have successfully expanded Medicaid.