In a previous blog, I discussed the concern of behavioral health issues and funding being absent from consideration in congressional and executive branch initiatives. Advocates and federal agencies such as SAMHSA have been working hard in Washington to assure that behavioral health is included in the deliberations surrounding health care reform.
This blog revisits the issue of behavioral health being absent in the stimulus package passed earlier this year. What brought this to the forefront again is the data out of SAMHSA showing a significant increase in the demand on the national suicide hotline. Much of that demand has been traced to the circumstances many people are facing in these very difficult economic times. SAMHSA also deserves credit for prioritizing this issue and allocating an additional $1 million to suicide prevention efforts. This is not easy during tough budgetary times.
Please find below a link to and copy of an op-ed piece, published August 18 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that I co-authored with our good friend, former Congressman Jim Ramstad. We both believe that if we address suicide openly as a public health issue, we will be able to address the discrimination that exists because of stigma and open more avenues for people who need care, treatment and support.