TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A future with better mental health services in Tippecanoe County could be up to the General Assembly session this year. Local mental health leaders are asking state lawmakers for four things in 2020.
- Increase mental health and addiction funding.
- Support mental health and addiction workforce development.
- Reduce administrative burdens in the community mental health and addiction service delivery.
- Continued support of mental health services within our schools.
Practice Manager Stafka Poweleit with the Meridian Addictions and Recovery Center said each issue directly affects another.
“When we look at the Medicaid products, the cost that it cost me to provide those services, Medicaid pays me under that so my ends will never meet so how do I be able to keep providing services to people that need it? Well I can't pay my staff as much as I would like to,” said Poweleit.
This affects the number of people choosing to pursue a career in the mental health field.
“Where we continue to struggle is workforce and that's with providers both MD's and licensed clinical social workers and nurses and so we are in a workforce shortage area,” said Zoe Frantz, Valley Oaks Mental Health Chief Strategy Officer.
Along with staff shortages, some mental health services are also finding it difficult to work around certain regulations.
“We have to get prior authorizations to treat mental health, whereas, if somebody's having a cardiac arrest, we don't have to get a prior authorization to revive somebody so why do we have to do that with a mental health crisis,” said Sheri Moore, NAMI West Central Indiana Executive Director.
Frantz said Tippecanoe County mental health services have come a long way since all the different organizations decided to partner. She said it has helped fill the gaps for those needing help.
“There were a number of access issues, where people could not get services and so a group of leaders within our community came together to figure out how we could address the need,” said Frantz.
There are nearly 10 different mental health organizations offered in Tippecanoe County. The organization leaders meet regularly to update each other on the status of their services. As these groups work to be on the same page, they’re hoping state lawmakers also take part.
“Our hands are tied without our legislators' support," said Moore. "If we get their support and help us move this forward, we're going to be able to help provide service to more people and help manage mental health."
These mental health leaders say the problems they face affect everyone. They're encouraging the community to advocate with them.
Here's who you can reach out to if you're interested in helping:
List of legislators
Brian Buchanan, Indiana State Senator, District 7
Ron Alting, Indiana State Senator, District 22
Phil Boots, Indiana State Senator, District 23
Sharon Negele, Indiana State Representative, District 13
Don Lehe, Indiana State Representative, District 25
Chris Campbell, Indiana State Representative, District 26
Sheila Klinker, Indiana State Representative, District 27
Tim Brown, Indiana State Representative, District 41