Mental health is a healthcare issue, and we need to work to stop the stigmatization of it. Schools should have more counselors who begin talking with children about mental health from a young age. With suicide rates at an all time high, this is a top priority for me. I’ve also seen how badly addiction can destroy someone’s life at a very personal level. My brother has suffered with addiction issues and my family have learned firsthand that the criminal justice system unfortunately prioritizes punishment, and not treatment. Fortunately for my brother, he has been able to get his life back on track, but he lost so many years because society treats addiction as a weakness and not as a disease. This needs to change.
We also need to work to lower the costs of mental healthcare and achieve parity in coverage so that when someone needs more in depth and specialized counseling, they are able to access this. Access is big problem in poorer communities where neither childrens’ parents nor their school district are able to afford mental healthcare. Mental health will always be a priority of mine at the Capitol.