Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee today in support of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), legislation which will strengthen the direction Indiana takes in assisting Hoosiers suffering with behavioral health issues, including mental illness and addiction. 

Authored by Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, SB 1 will transform the current 988 Crisis Hotline into 988 Response Centers and direct Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration to apply for support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand the network of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) in Indiana.

It is unusual for a sitting Indiana governor or lieutenant governor to testify in front of a committee on behalf of a specific piece of legislation.

“As co-chair of the Indiana Roundtable on Mental Health, I could have justified speaking on behalf of this bill. But for personal reasons, I was compelled to testify,” said Lt. Gov. Crouch, who also is Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “One in five Hoosiers suffers from mental illness or addiction, and my family is no exception. My mother suffered from depression throughout her life, and my younger sister died by suicide in her 20s.” 

If enacted, SB 1 will create 988 Crisis Response Centers, allowing mobile crisis teams to be dispatched to assist in a severe mental health crisis. SB 1 also addresses funding and sustainability for CCBHCs, which are designed to ensure access to coordinated comprehensive behavioral health care. There are currently 19 pilot CCBHC sites in Indiana.

“The cost of untreated mental illness and addiction cases to the state of Indiana exceeds $4 billion annually,” said Crouch, who has been an outspoken supporter of behavioral and mental health initiatives throughout her career. “In addition to the cost of life, can Indiana afford not to do more for Hoosiers suffering from mental illness and addiction?”

The Senate Appropriations committee is expected to vote on SB 1 at its next meeting.