Indiana lawmakers discuss new mental health laws

Politics

Sunday’s fatal shooting at a Tennessee restaurant involved a man with a reported history of mental illness.

Mental illness was a topic that Indiana lawmakers addressed this year.

A manhunt ended Monday for a 29-year-old man who opened fire early Sunday morning at an Antioch, Tenn., Waffle House. Four people died and several others were injured. Travis Reinking was known to authorities; he had breached a White House security barrier in July in an attempt to meet with President Donald Trump.

Indiana lawmakers in March passed into law two measures involving mental health services that they hope will save lives.

bill by State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, a Republican from Beech Grove, was designed in part to provide more mental health treatment. The measure calls for mental health centers to be created as part of a plan to open nine opioid treatment centers across Indiana.

Kirchhofer said, “If we can identify someone who is in crisis or needs treatment, then having more individuals in the workforce ready to take on that patient and get them some therapy and treatment that they need will hopefully be able to attack our crisis.”

When asked if this legislation could help stop a tragic incident such as the Waffle House shooting from happening in Indiana, Kirchhofer said, “Yeah, I think we need a culture shift in treating mental illness. You’re seeing that these days, but to know when people … and even recognize yourself when you might need help, getting yourself some mental health services.”

The need for a culture shift was a strong point in March when people packed the Statehouse and rallied for stricter gun laws and mental health awareness.

The other measure, State Rep. Donna Schaibley’s billbasically enure mental health centers get the same amount of state money in 2018 as in 2017. She said she believes her bill is a step in the right direction.

“I think mental health is kind of the driving force between, you know, a lot of the problems that we are having, say, with the guns and the shootings,” the Republican from Carmel said. “The one thing that I’m really hopeful that this legislation does is improve communication between community mental health centers and the counties so that they can sit down and work together.”

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