Dear Advocates,

Mental Health America of Indiana is a strong advocate for trauma awareness, training, and treatment, as such is critical to providing comprehensive and integrated services in behavioral healthcare.  Early intervention is critical and HB 1283 (DeVon), Trauma Response for Teachers , would prepare teachers to use evidence-based trauma informed classroom instruction to recognize social, emotional, and behavioral reactions to trauma that may interfere with a student’s academic functioning. The curricula may include training on recognizing the signs of social, emotional, and behavioral reactions to trauma, as well as the potential impacts of trauma. Practical recommendations for running a trauma informed classroom and avoiding re-victimization in schools would be included.

Certainly, trauma has a broad and lasting impact. According to the IYI Kids Count data, 47% of students in Indiana have experienced one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACES). Hoosier students have a higher prevalence of ACES than the national average and critically, children who live in poverty are three times more likely than their peers to experience trauma. Irrespective of income, Black and Hispanic youth are nearly twice as likely as their White peers to experience trauma.  

Adverse childhood experiences are also associated with increased bullying, behavior problems, and physical illnesses.  For every increase in the ACES score, the risk for alcohol and tobacco use is greater. It is estimated that 56% of substance use can be attributed to adverse childhood experiences. Even into adulthood, ACES can have a negative impact on physical and emotional health. At least 5 out of 10 leading causes of death are associated with ACES, and a high ACES score is predictive of death nearly 20 years earlier on average than those without ACES. Clearly, prevention, early intervention, and treatment is key.

As children spend more awake time at school than in their own home, the school system does and should play an integral role in the social and emotional development of students. A trauma informed school approach creates a climate where student behaviors can be addressed with increased understanding and insight.

HB 1283 would help create supportive learning environments that promote the health and safety of students, while increasing improved academic achievement, a reduction in absences, detentions, and suspensions, and improved student retention and graduation rates. 



Stephen C. McCaffrey, JD
President and CEO of Mental Health America of Indiana
Stephen C. McCaffrey, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Indiana, testifying on Senate Bill 273.
Senate Bill 273 establishes the  In diana behavioral health commission. Specifies the membership of the commission. Requires the commission to prepare: an  in terim report not later than October 1, 2020; and a final report not later than October 1, 2022. Specifies the issues and topics to be discussed  in  the commission reports,  in cluding: to conduct an assessment of behavioral health  in   In diana; to evaluate barriers to mental health and substance use disorder treatment  in   In diana; to evaluate other state and national mental health programs; as well as to review and make recommendations regarding funding levels for mental health programs and services. Requires commission reports to be issued to the following parties: (1) The governor. (2) The legislative council. (3) Any other party specified by the commission chairperson.


Senate Bill 246 Requires a school corporation, charter school, or accredited nonpublic school to certify to the department of homeland security that a school corporation, charter school, or accredited nonpublic school has a memorandum of understanding in place with a community mental health center or provider certified or licensed by the state to provide mental and behavioral health services to students before applying for a grant from the Indiana secured school fund. 

House Bill 1346 specifies the purpose and certain duties of the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council, including: to conduct a state level review and evaluation of jail overcrowding to identify a range of possible solutions; and to develop incarceration alternatives and recidivism reduction programs at the county and community level by promoting the development of the incorporation of evidence based decision making into decisions concerning jail overcrowding. Provides that the advisory council may make a recommendation to the county sheriffs concerning strategies to address jail overcrowding and implementing evidence based practices for reducing recidivism for individuals in county jails.
House Bill 1182  and SB 4  requires a syringe exchange program to:(1) provide testing for communicable diseases and provide services or a referral for services if the individual tests positive; and (2) establish a referral process for program participants in need of information or education concerning communicable diseases or health care. Requires the state department of health to include certain information concerning syringe exchange programs in the report to the general assembly before November 1, 2020. Extends the expiration date for certain syringe exchange programs from July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022. Defines certain terms. Makes conforming amendments and technical corrections.
Among many new changes to our policy agenda, the following are a few highlighted areas of focus:

  • MHAI will support efforts to increase the price of tobacco and e-liquid products through taxes or other means such as raising the age of use of tobacco and e-liquids products to 21 in an effort to decrease utilization of all tobacco products.

  • By providing the opportunity for schools to offer behavioral health programing with funding to increase capacity, schools can develop and maintain partnerships with community mental health service providers and create a safety net for those students and their families who may otherwise not receive the services they need. Most importantly, services in schools provide the opportunity for early intervention and prevention.  

Click the link below to see Mental Health America of Indiana's full public policy agenda.
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Congratulation and thank you for the continued support from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration !

We value being strong partners with FSSA in Indiana as advocates for mental wellness and recovery!

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