(Springfield, Mo.-- 10/11/17) Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was in Springfield Wednesday to discuss the expansion of a grant program that targets mental health.
KRBK spoke to the senator about the importance of treating mental health the same way we treat physical health.
Missouri is one of eight states chosen to participate in the pilot program as part of the Excellence in Mental Health Act.
"You can go to federally qualified health center or community behavioral health center and you’re going to find whatever you’re behavioral health challenge is," explains Sen. Blunt.
The pilot program will give Missouri federal funding, putting a priority on community health centers and addressing mental health needs.
"It’s going to be dealt with just like any other health problem you have and that’s what we should’ve been doing for a long time."
The Republican senator says mental illness affects large swaths of Missourians.
"1 in 9 adult Americans has a behavioral health issue that impacts how they live every single day. So this is not isolated, it’s not unique, but it’s often undealt with."
He says the excellence in mental health act is a critical step toward improving and expanding access to behavioral health services.
"They have more options in our state than they’ve had before and in seven other states, but the real key is more options here."
Stephanie Appleby is the Director of Marketing for NAMI. She tells FOX5, "We can have all of these great plans in place, but if we don’t have the folks to accommodate the need we really fall short and disappoint folks that are already kind of at the end of their rope."
With the rising rates of suicides Appleby says the excellence in mental health will provide lifesaving mental health services that people can count on.
"This will provide us the opportunity as consumers or peers to send them where they need to go to get the help. Because right now the wait list is so long and they’re not getting the help that they need."
The National Alliance on Mental Health Illness advocated for the increased focus on mental health.
"I just hope we can accommodate the need. That’s the problem I just want to make sure that we’ve given these individuals the hope and we can deliver."