Blue Dogs Host Rural Opportunity Roundtable Discussion on Mental Health Care, Addiction Treatment
Sep 11, 2020
WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Co-Chair for Whip of the Blue Dog Coalition, moderated a discussion on mental health care and addiction treatment as part of the Coalition’s Rural Opportunity Roundtable series.
From 1999 to 2016, suicide rates grew in nearly all 50 states. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate is 45 percent higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
Brindisi, a champion for rural communities across New York’s 22nd District and an unwavering advocate for access to mental health care, has introduced multiple pieces of bipartisan legislation to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, strengthen our mental health care system, and expand access to care for rural communities. This includes the Blue Dog Coalition-endorsed Seeding Rural Resilience Act, which the House passed with bipartisan support.
“Access to affordable mental health care should not vary from zip code to zip code. Rural Upstate New Yorkers know that firsthand, and that’s why I invited Keith to speak about the importance of rural mental health care at our roundtable today,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Whip. “The lack of access to mental health care for rural communities like ours is a life or death issue and there is an urgent need to expand access to care in Upstate New York. Discussions like today’s help us raise awareness and will impel more policy makers to take substantive action to connect struggling rural Americans with support when they need it most. I’m working every day to ensure Upstate New Yorkers have a seat at the table, and I will keep working to bring their voices to Washington.”
Rep. Brindisi was joined by the following special guests for the discussion on mental health care and addiction treatment in rural communities:
Keith Leahey, Executive Director, Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier, Inc.
Dr. Shawn Ryan, Chair of Legislative Advocacy, American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
Cassandra Sheets, CEO, Center for Family Life and Recovery
Dr. Liza Tupa, Director of Education and Research, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Behavioral Health Program
To watch the full discussion, click here.
The Blue Dogs are developing a forward-looking plan to strengthen rural America by building a strong economic foundation and creating good-paying jobs. As they develop their plan, the Blue Dogs want to hear from policy experts and from those who are experiencing the issues of our time on the ground. That’s why the Coalition has launched the Rural Opportunity Roundtable series, which began with a discussion with local and tribal leaders about the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their communities, followed by a discussion on expanding access to high-speed broadband internet and a discussion on expanding access to affordable quality health care in rural America. Over the next month, there will be discussions on several issues important to rural and tribal communities, including supporting small business and entrepreneurship, strengthening the outdoor economy, expanding access to education and workforce training, and more.