Good mental health is a critical part of a healthy body. It is at the heart of a safe and loving family environment where children can grow and thrive. For 13 years, I have been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for neglected and abused children in Jefferson County. In my experience, at least one parent in most dysfunctional families is experiencing issues with mental health. If a parent is not able to successfully navigate their own life, they are unable to be a good role model or adequately care for their children. As a State Representative, I will advocate for more mental health resources, easier access to them, and the inclusion of mental health in any discussion of public health. In addition, I will advocate for the decriminalization of mental health. The police should not be first responders for people experiencing mental distress and our jails and prisons should not be used as treatment centers for those with mental health issues. Assessing mental health early and compassionately will lead to more happy and healthy families, and that will result in fewer incarcerations and family disruptions. We know what needs to be done. We need to prioritize it and get it done!