Holly Herson

My passion for mental health policy is the driving force behind my decision to run for office.
When my father died by suicide in 2009 I made the decision to double down and make a
difference; I returned to school to study public policy, volunteered with organizations,
candidates, and initiative groups who were focused on mental health policy change. Access to
mental health services in schools and in primary healthcare offices is the way we are going to
remove stigma and taboo surrounding mental healthcare. We need to flip the narrative. Mental
healthcare is wellness care. Suicide rates in men over age 50 are soaring, and I believe it is
directly related to the stigma that our society places on receiving care for mental health. We are
comfortable as a culture having a wellness visit every year to “check-up” on our general health,
and I believe that we need this for mental healthcare. Rural areas experience not only a lack of
access to care facilities, but also an increased feeling of isolation and rugged individualism. It is
not a weakness to reach out to a provider for preventative medical care. Providing mental
healthcare for children in schools will prevent bullying, racism, and create a healthy learning
environment for all children. Expanding this access to schools will reduce the strain on primary
care facilities that are in short supply in rural areas. It is up to leadership to create an
environment where people from all communities feel empowerment in their medical care, and I
believe that changing the way we discuss preventative medicine to include mental healthcare is
the way to do it.