By Sophia Wozniak
While more people than ever are seeking mental health support, communities across El Paso County often lack the support and services needed to meet the need. Unfortunately, that means too many of us face long waitlists to see a therapist, days-long waits in hospital emergency rooms to see a psychiatric specialist or more frequent interactions with law enforcement instead of receiving a mental health response.
At NAMI El Paso, we see first-hand this impact on people in our community. As part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, we also know these issues aren’t limited to Texas; communities everywhere are struggling to meet the demand.
Our community needs resources now to turn the tide on this ongoing mental health crisis. Every day, we lose more lives and futures to mental health, substance use and suicide crises.
Thankfully, we have a chance to get more people the care they need and deserve – but only if Congress acts before the end of the year.
We can’t wait. As Congress is working quickly to wrap up its work this month, we need U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and U.S. Reps. Veronica Escobar and Tony Gonzales, to fight to include mental health as a priority in any year-end legislation.
There has already been incredible bipartisan work that has resulted in proposed policy changes that would ensure people who are experiencing a mental health crisis can receive a mental health response by making key changes in Medicaid and Medicare – two programs that pay for many of the country’s mental health care.
NAMI El Paso hopes we can count on Texas’s congressional delegation to support including bipartisan mental health crisis response solutions in any action Congress takes before the end of the year.
Sophia Wozniak is a mental health peer policy fellow for NAMI El Paso.