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A call goes out for fully funded mental health crisis response in Indiana

Right now, the response to a crisis call often comes from police officers.

INDIANAPOLIS — Hundreds of people attended a rally at New Direction Church on East 38th Street in Indianapolis Saturday to call on Indiana lawmakers to fully fund a bill that would pay for trained professionals to respond to mental health crises.

"A person to call. A person to come and a place to go," said Rome Herbert with Faith in Indiana Black Church Coalition. 

Right now, the response to a crisis often comes from police officers.

A 911 call for help doesn't always get loved ones the help they need.

"That place to go is going to end up being the jail if there's no crisis center," said Herbert. 

According to Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, up to 80% of people in jail have some type of mental illness.

Plus, people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter.

Marcella DeLavallade-Amos wonders if her son would still be alive if they had had the support from Senate Bill 1. 

Her son, Joshua, had schizophrenia. She said in 2012 she called the police for help to take him to the hospital. But he was shot and killed during a struggle with officers.

"I truly believe if we had had a mental health response at that time, my son would still be alive," said DeLavallade-Amos.

She wants to make sure people with mental illness get the help they need.

"You should care because we are all humans. If it's not affecting your family today, it can affect you tomorrow," said DeLavallade-Amos. 

A two-year study estimated the total annual cost to sustain the three-part crisis system components would run $130.6 million annually. The Behavioral Health Commission said multiple revenue streams are being considered, including a monthly surcharge of $1 on phones. It's the same way 911 is funded. 

The Senate is scheduled to vote on SB1 on Monday. If approved, it would provide $30 million over the next two years to help build out the 988 crisis hotline, which was launched last year.

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