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Urges public officials to prioritize mental health

To the editor:

May is Mental Health Month. By urging my public officials to prioritize suicide prevention, mental health and crisis care, I am hoping to influence collective change to support #MentalHealth4All.

Right now, individuals in crisis are able to call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and those that care for them. Soon, it will be much easier to remember how to reach the Lifeline as the number will be changing to “988” nationwide by July 2022.

Knowing this, it is critically important that states pass legislation now to reliably fund 988 and their state’s crisis response system, just as we fund 911 and emergency services — through small fees on our phone bills. Reliable funding will help to ensure all 988 callers can reach a counselor in their own state who is familiar with and can connect them with local resources. Culturally competent support and local connections can better help all callers through their crisis and in their recovery.

I am a firm believer that suicide prevention and mental health care is something we as a community need to work more on.

On average, there are 132 suicides per day in the U.S., 22 of which are veterans. That is unacceptable. Our nation and our communities need to help those who are struggling with mental health by providing programs and listing these programs in newspapers, social media accounts, etc., so people know they are out there. How can someone get help if they feel as if their community doesn’t care enough to provide that help?

Join me this month in urging your public officials to fund 988. We all play a role in changing the culture around mental health. Together, we can ensure #MentalHealth4All.

Cody Higgins

Callender

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