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The Senate Appropriations Committee met Tuesday to hear Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (above) and others deliver testimony on mental health expenses that would be covered under Senate Bill 1, authored by Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield.

The bill aims to establish better mental health resources for Hoosiers, allocate funds to maintain a helpline and expand access to behavioral health services.

As co-chair of the Indiana Mental Health Roundtable, Crouch spoke on the cost of untreated mental health issues in Indiana while also sharing why the problem is so close to her heart.

“I was raised by a mother who suffered from depression. My sister, Nancy, died by suicide in her early 20s. We just buried my brother, Larry, in November. He was an alcoholic. My husband’s father was an alcoholic. Our daughter, Courtney, is 12 years sober and bipolar,” Crouch shared. “Hoosiers that inherit genes that predispose them to these conditions deserve an opportunity to be successful in life, and that’s what Senate Bill 1 will do.”

She said that “the untreated cost of mental illness in Indiana is over $4 billion,” an amount she believes the state cannot afford to lose.

Despite the committee’s decision not to vote on the bill on Thursday, Committee Chair Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen, thanked Crouch for her vulnerability and support on SB 1.

Over 15 people signed up to testify for the bill, including health-care professionals and loved ones of those lost to mental health problems.

Dr. Heather Taylor, an assistant professor for the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Health, shared jarring statistics. For example, 219,000 Hoosiers have untreated mental illnesses. Taylor said that this equates to $708 million in direct health-care costs.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, questioned whether or not that number truly captures how many Hoosiers struggle with mental health issues.

“I know there are so many communities that talked about mental health as a kind of stigma, and it’s not a conversation had within certain homes and communities,” Melton said. “So I’m just wondering how much more are we missing?”

Father and daughter Jay and Jodie Moser also testified in support of Senate Bill 1, sharing personal stories of their son and brother Adam, who died less than two years ago.

While Adam was feeling suicidal, his wife called 911, not knowing who else to call.

“Within 15 minutes, Adam had been shot more than five times, one week before his 40th birthday,” Jodie Moser said.

The conversation surrounding mental health issues lasted for over an hour. The committee decided to hold the bill for further discussion.

Ashlyn Myers is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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