When I ran for Congress, I ran on a message of working to keep Minnesotans healthy by increasing access to quality, affordable health care.
Urgently, we must make certain that this conversation also includes addressing the mental health challenges that are increasingly taking too many lives and holding back too many Minnesotans from living full lives in our communities.
Almost every family is touched by mental health challenges — from the farmer facing record-low commodity prices to the Veteran or police officer struggling with PTSD to the student experiencing anxiety about their future. In a recent MinnPost article “High anxiety: What’s driving more teens to seek mental health care?” we learned that more teens are seeking out care for mental health, and they are more willing to speak openly about it. We need to ensure that conversation continues, and ensure we are providing resources to meet Minnesotans no matter where they live.
This is especially essential in our rural communities, where resources are scarce, wait times for clinic visits can be untenable, and mental health professional positions often go unfilled. I’ve heard from farmers across my district on the stress they face not only from a difficult farm economy, but also from the lack of available resources. That’s why I recently introduced the Seeding Rural Resilience Act of 2019, which would provide resources for USDA officials to address the mental health challenges that come with the stress of farming in this difficult economy.
It’s also why I support bills to make coverage of mental health services more transparent, provide resources to treat mental health issues among first responders, expand Medicare coverage of telehealth services and all mental health professionals, and extend funding for certified behavioral health clinics to treat substance abuse disorder and mental illnesses in communities across Minnesota. Most recently, I supported a bill to designate a three-digit dial code for a nationwide suicide-prevention call number.
Different folks require different approaches to addressing mental health challenges, and dedicated Minnesotans across this state are working to find innovative, effective solutions. It’s up to Congress to be a strong partner in supporting them. I’ve been working hard to pass each of these bills because I want to make sure that as your representative, I am your ally in the fight to create more healthy, resilient communities.
It’s time to get serious about addressing this issue. For too long, mental health care has existed in the shadows with people hesitant to share they are struggling and discriminatory policies that prevent them from accessing needed care. Working to change this means not only increasing the resources available to folks struggling with mental illnesses, it also means raising awareness about the signs and symptoms. I’m proud to be working on your behalf to find common sense, bipartisan solutions that help meet Minnesotans where they live.
Rep. Angie Craig represents Minnesota’s Second District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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