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Fmr. US surgeon general and WISH med. expert gives Indiana a D+ on mental health treatment

October 13, 2023

Dr. Jerome Adams, the WISH-TV medical expert and a former U.S. surgeon general, talked Tuesday on News 8 about World Mental Health Day.He said he’d give Indiana a grade of D+ for its mental health treatment.

An anesthesiologist with a master’s degree in public health, Adams said that “there’s no way you can give us a passing grade when you consider that one-fifth of Hoosiers had a mental health issue last year and two-thirds of them were unable to get the help that they needed.”

However, he noted a positive development for Hoosiers.

“We’ve got promising news in light of the lieutenant governor’s Mental Health Roundtable, which I’m a part of and which the Colts’ Kalen Jackson supports. Many other leaders around the state are a part of that roundtable. We’ve got the Legislature passing SB (Senate Bill) 1 to expand access to mental health services, and we now have 988, which is a new crisis hotline that families can use to call for help instead of calling 911 for police.”

In Marion County, statistics show, nearly 26,000 people who needed mental health treatment in 2022 did not get it. Is Adams surprised by the number?

“I’m not surprised unfortunately because we’ve been seeing this building over the years.

“I do want to highlight the the case of Herman Whitfield III, who, as you all know, was covered on WISH-TV earlier this year, died after police responded to his parents’ home when they called 911 during a mental health crisis he was having.

“The good news … is that we do have some positive wins with 988 instead of calling 911. People can call 988 for a crisis. We’re going to have more treatment because of SB 1, Senate Bill 1, passed by the Legislature, and we’ve got focus around this. I love the Colts’ Kicking the Stigma campaign that they have really trying to help normalize mental health, and normalizing the idea of asking for treatment when you need it.”