Randy Head-2012While the Indiana General Assembly is a part-time legislature, certain groups meet diligently throughout the year to discuss issues facing the state of Indiana.

State Senator Randy Head said, “One in particular is our Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health for Children, which reports to the Commission on Improving the Status of Children  and is made up of practitioners in mental health, social work, law enforcement, government and substance abuse rehabilitation fields around Indiana.”

Senator Head said, “Our kids are our future, and it is important they grow up in a safe, healthy environment. To ensure this is the case, our Task Force meets to uncover issues facing Indiana children and find solutions to those problems.”

Below are the issues the senate wanted to address this year, along with the bills on those topics that passed this session.

Mental Health

Right now, there is incomplete data on the gaps in services for medical, substance use and mental health in Indiana, which makes it difficult to know how to make improvements. To address this issue, Senate Enrolled Act 223 helps provide our state with more health workforce information by requiring some licensed health practitioners to provide information related to their work when renewing their licenses online.

Available Counselors

When mental health counselors move to our state, they are required to complete hours of training prior to receiving an Indiana license, even if they have worked in their field for years in another state. This often deters them from settling in Indiana, reducing the number of counselors that could be available. To make it easier for these important counselors to obtain a license,Senate Enrolled Act 224 requires them to complete only 700 hours, rather than 1,000, in a counseling setting through a clinical practicum, internship or field experience. Plus, up to 50 percent of the supervised hours may be virtual supervision.

Opioid Training

Opioid abuse continues to rise in Indiana. To ensure health care practitioners are armed with the most current information, Senate Enrolled Act 225 requires licensed health care practitioners to have completed two hours of continued opioid prescribing and opioid abuse education during the previous two years when they apply for registration or re-registration.

Suicide Awareness
Too many Hoosiers, including children, lose their lives to suicide each year. To help reduce these terrible deaths, Senate Enrolled Act 230 adds language to improve a bill passed during the 2017 session, which essentially designated the Indiana Suicide Prevention Network Advisory Council to be the entity to work with the Indiana Department of Education and Division of Mental Health and Addiction to determine programs that are offered to schools and communities related to prevention and intervention.

Senator Head said, “The passage of these bills would not have been possible if not for the hard work and dedication of all of the Task Force members. We are thankful to our Task Force for their effort and support, and are hoping to see these bills positively impact our children and state.”

State Sen. Randy Head co-chairs the Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health for Children and represents Senate District 18, which includes all of Miami County, Cass County, Fulton County, and portions of Marshall County, Kosciuscko County, and Carroll County.