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Clergy seeks fully funded mental health crisis response system in Indiana

SB1 already passed the Senate unanimously and is now in a House committee.

INDIANAPOLIS — Faith leaders across our state are urging lawmakers to fully fund a mental health crisis response system in Indiana.

Senate Bill 1 already passed the Senate unanimously and is now in a House committee.

But paying for it is what brought pastors to the Statehouse Tuesday to talk with legislative leaders.

Out of the pulpit and into the public forum, pastors with the Black Church Coalition along with Faith Indiana are making their case for money for mental health crisis response in Indiana.

Clergy are now calling on lawmakers to fully fund SB1.

Not just pass it, but pay for it.

"The whole $130 million worth," said therapist Bwana Clements, who spoke at Tuesday's news conference.

"It is one thing to pass the bill and have it on paper," added Dr. Carlos Perkins, pastor at Bethel Cathedral AME Church. "But in order for us to have services and support, places to call and places to go for residents across the state of Indiana, that bill must be fully funded."

It's personal to Perkins. He sees the struggle for mental health services in his church members in his own family.

"My brother, at 17 years old, had a psychotic episode, had a mental health break and never recovered. We as a family have been struggling with this over the last 12 years," Perkins said.

Perkins says a lack of crisis services can lead to deadly results.

"One of the things that has motivated us is the case of Herman Whitfield," Perkins said. "And that family has now had to go through, over the last year, the pain of losing a son because he had a mental health crisis and they called the police."

SB1 would make sure trained professionals help families in need. It would boost the 988 crisis hotline and pay for mobile crisis counseling units to respond 24/7.

Lawmakers have so far discussed spending around $30 million on SB1. Faith leaders say that's not nearly enough and say without full funding, the bill is just a piece of paper.

"It's great to say you're in support of something. It's great to say it's a good idea," Clements said. "It's another entirely to take the next step to fund those and fully support them."

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