Mental Health Matters
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
July 30, 2021
In a country where every year there are more than forty thousand suicides and sixty thousand drug overdose deaths, mental health matters.
Our nation has overlooked mental health for too long. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for South Dakotans, which is heartbreaking, unacceptable, and why we must do more.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated the underinvestment in mental healthcare in our country. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, during the height of the pandemic, anxiety and depression symptoms were three to four times higher than the year prior.
Every time our nation faces a tragedy, debate starts over about the need to invest in mental health in order to prevent future tragedy – but action has yet to come at a federal level.
That’s why this week, I introduced the Supporting Underserved Populations by Placing Our Resources in Trusts (SUPPORT) for Mental Health Act along with Representative Kim Schrier, M.D. Our bipartisan bill will allow states to utilize already appropriated unused COVID-19 relief funds to create trusts to support state-based mental and behavioral health services.
Recently, I visited the Link, a new community triage center in Sioux Falls. The Link offers free support services for people living with mental health and substance abuse challenges. I saw firsthand how crucial of an asset this center is to Sioux Falls and surrounding communities.
The trust established by the state through the SUPPORT for Mental Health Act would be able to provide financial support to the Link and similar facilities across South Dakota.
Additionally, these trusts could be used to help fund services such as suicide prevention, crisis counseling, inpatient and outpatient programs.
With an estimated $1 trillion in COVID-19 relief still left unspent, this straightforward, common-sense approach will begin a serious investment in mental health resources for people across South Dakota and the United States.