Rep. Victoria Steele reflects on her mental health services bill


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Rep. Victoria Steele (D-LD 9) has a "My Turn" opinion in the Arizona Republic today reflecting on her mental health services bill recently killed in a Senate Health Committee by teabaggers opposed to "Gabby's bill." Tragedy speaks to need for more mental health first aid:

There are moments throughout the day when I am at the Arizona Capitol
when my mind takes me home. I think of the people I’ve met since I
began this public service. I think about our neighborhoods in Tucson. I
remember how our community pulled together after a horrific tragedy that
took the lives of many wonderful people and nearly took the life of our
beloved congresswoman.

I had one of those moments when I learned that our efforts to help
people get training so they would be better prepared to respond to those
experiencing a mental crisis have failed — for now.

I thought about my home and how this legislation would help people in
our community. I also thought about other communities affected by
violence. I am reminded of the 20 children and six adults who were shot
to death at Sandy Hook Elementary by another mentally ill individual.
Following that, we all wanted to do something to stop the violence.

Earlier this year, in an effort to prevent further tragedies in
Arizona I introduced legislation to provide more funding to the Mental
Health First Aid program. This program trains people in recognizing and
responding to those experiencing a mental health crisis. It is a
straightforward, common sense idea that everyone can get behind.

I cosponsored this bill with a Republican colleague because this
issue is not about political parties but it is about public health and
safety. The bill enjoyed broad support in the Arizona House. It passed
overwhelmingly but Republicans in the Senate Health Committee have
subsequently refused to hear it
. Without a committee hearing in the
Senate, there is little chance that Mental Health First Aid program will
get adequate support.

I worry that this legislation was rejected because a few extremists
lacked the ability to see the importance of this issue. We have to do
everything possible to prevent more of these senseless massacres in
Arizona. Instead, when some members of the Senate Health Committee had
the chance to do something that would make a real difference, they chose
to do nothing
. I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.

This is an opportunity missed because a handful of extremists put
their ideological agenda before common sense. It is perplexing but I
have faith that, in the end, common sense will prevail.

I remain committed to finding a way to get support for the Mental
Health First Aid program because even if it prevents one senseless,
violent death, it will have been worth it. If it does not happen this
session then I will try again next session. It is too important to just
give up.

Keep trying. Angry old white Tea-Publicans can't live forever. Time — and demographics — is on our side.