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Faith leaders push for passage of mental health bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A multiracial coalition of hundreds of faith and community leaders gathered Saturday at New Direction Church, urging lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 1.

The legislation would dramatically expand mental health services by building out the state’s 988 suicide hotline. It would provide mental health counselors who could respond to someone emotionally distressed before the police do.

New Direction Senior Pastor Kenneth Sullivan said, “We really believe for some of these mental health issues we don’t just need law enforcement we need those who come and help people with those crisis without escalating the situation.”

The bill would also change the state’s Medicaid plan to require reimbursement for eligible certified community behavioral health clinic services. The estimated cost for the bill is around $130 million. Lawmakers need to decide how to fund it.

“I think the question is what source of funding we use, whether its general fund dollars or some other fund that’s tapped to use for this process,” said State Senator Mike Crider (R-Greenfield), the bill’s co-author.

Several Democratic and Republican lawmakers are co-sponsoring the bill.

It is scheduled for a vote in the Indiana Senate on Feb. 13. If it passes, the bill needs House approval before heading to Governor Holcomb’s desk for his signature.

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