Miller Meeks: Mental health is a bipartisan issue

Mental health is an issue facing everyone in the United States, and we should be doing more to expand access to mental health resources and care. According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, almost one in five people lives with a mental illness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not eased the mental health crisis in the United States, but as predicted, lockdown isolation has exacerbated drug addiction and mental illness. It has also exposed the flaws in our supply system. In 2020, nearly 46,000 Americans died by suicide. Unfortunately, suicide is still one of the leading causes of death for teenage and middle-aged Americans.

That is why it is vitally important that this September we recognize Suicide Prevention Month. This month I am calling on Iowans and Americans to come together and offer support to those who are struggling.

Resources like the 9-8-8 hotline, which has recently become the new suicide hotline, have effectively lowered suicide rates across the country. It can help avert a crisis and connect a vulnerable person to local resources when needed. The hotline can be reached 24 hours a day via text message or phone call. However, this hotline alone will not address the growing mental health crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since taking office, I have been committed to introducing legislation to support and expand resources for American mental health. Recently, my 2022 Child Mental Health Access Support Bill passed the House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would reauthorize funding for children’s mental and behavioral health programs.

Additionally, this week I held a roundtable with Clinton County Sheriff Bill Greenwalt to discuss the importance of mental health, suicide prevention and information about available resources. Discussions like this raise awareness about mental health and allow local experts to share resources with the community.

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I am proud that Congress has prioritized brain health and begun to recognize how important this issue is for our youth. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting sound legislation to address mental illness and expand resources for those in need.

Mental health isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue—it’s an issue facing every single American. I am confident that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can come together to work on legislation to reduce suicide rates, expand access to care and help those who suffer.

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