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Emotional testimony helps guide House committee approval of mental health care bill

Legislation to boost mental health care services unanimously cleared a House committee Tuesday amid emotional testimony from Hoosiers.

The bill, SB 1, is meant to help increase access to care through community mental health centers and provide resources for the 9-8-8 crisis response hotline.

Many of those who testified in support said the bill represents hope. Julie Henderson lost her daughter to an overdose years ago.

“I love this bill because it provides opportunities for people like me … to find care before we lose our loved ones,” Henderson said.

READ MORE: Legislative leaders say both chambers' mental health priorities will get funded

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Mental Health America of Indiana COO Stephanie Anderson said providing greater access to care helps all of Indiana.

“One in five Hoosiers – one in five – experience mental illness each year," Anderson said. "And quantified – and I’m going to repeat this number over and over again – that is $4.2 billion a year that it costs the state.”

The bill does not have any funding in it; that will be decided in the state budget.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.