February 28, 2018
AUGUSTA – Two bills sponsored by Rep. Jim Handy, D-Lewiston, to improve Maine’s awareness and treatment resources for mental health were approved on Tuesday by the Legislative Council.
“The LePage administration has tried to cut mental health treatment system at a time when we should be investing,” said Handy. “The health and safety of Maine people and especially our kids should be our first priority, not first on the chopping block.”
The first bill, “An Act to Enhance and Increase the Availability of Mental Health Providers in Maine,” will establish mental health providers as a class of medical professionals under the Finance Authority of Maine's Maine Health Professions Loan Program and the Maine Health Professions Loan Forgiveness Program. This would address the shortage of mental health care providers in Maine by encouraging students to enter the profession.
The second bill is titled “An Act to Increase Educator, Student, Parental and Community Awareness of Mental Health Issues that May Lead to Harm of a Person or Persons or Oneself." The intent of the bill is to create a mental health awareness program such as the National Alliance of Mental Illness’ "Ending the Silence."
At this point in the session, any new bills must be determined to address emergencies and other pressing situations. The Legislative Council, which is made up of each party’s leaders in the Maine House and Senate, decides which bills fit the criteria.
Handy’s bills will be heard by the Legislature in the coming weeks.
Lindsay Crete [Handy], c. 231-1442