PORTSMOUTH- Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis will be taking the message of mental health needs to Washington, DC, next week as part of the National Association of Counties Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing.
He says that while the nation is coming out of one pandemic, Americans are walking right into another.
“I told the governor several months ago: You know, COVID is waning. Your next pandemic is mental health,” Davis said. “It is the next pandemic, if not already.”
Davis was appointed to the commission about a month ago and will be meeting with lawmakers and the President of the United States to lobby for mental health.
“I’m excited about this,” he said. “I think it’s very important, especially in our area that is devoid of mental health services.”
Davis points to the need to address depression, abuse, and suicide. He said people are waiting because what few resources there are in southern Ohio have been maxed out. Suicidal people are being asked to wait for treatment of an acute issue due to lack of available services.
“That’s unconscionable,” Davis said. “We should take better care of our people.”
The commission will be building a platform and discussing legislation with lawmakers at the federal level. Among the topics are acute immediate care, behavioral health needs, and residential treatment after in-patient care. While addiction can be a part of a person’s mental health issues, it’s not always the case.
“This is urgent, this is real,” Davis said. “We have to invest in people. You have to have the workers and you can’t pay them $12 an hour.
“When the rubber meets the road, you have to come up with the legislation to back it up.”
The 14-member commission will be meeting at the White House on Wednesday and on Capitol Hill Thursday.
“It’s important for us to have a voice,” Davis said, “and this is where we have that voice.”