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State Rep. Andrade helps to address mental health amid pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House unanimously passed a bill that takes a step forward in addressing mental health, joining the rest of the country as one of the last of two states to put a better structure in place for mental health diagnoses. State Representative Mike Andrade (D-Munster) was added as a co-sponsor.

Senate Bill 82 expands who can make a mental health diagnosis, ultimately increasing access to mental health treatment and medication plans. Currently, only doctors and psychologists can provide a diagnosis; the bill expands that list to include clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors and clinical addiction counselors.

“Hoosiers will now have more options for diagnosis and treatment for mental illnesses,” Andrade said. “There is still a stigma around mental health that we need to continue to talk about and create awareness for, but this is a good step forward in joining other states’ standards in treating mental illness. 

“For every barrier that we dismantle, hundreds of Hoosiers will be able to get the treatment they need to start on a path of health and recovery.”

It also requires those who make a mental health diagnosis to schedule a physical examination if the patient has not seen a physician, advanced practice registered nurse or a physician assistant in the past 12 months. A scheduled physical examination allows another medical professional to follow up with further treatment or other medical needs that may exist.

“The bill provides a better network and structure for health professionals, so they can work more efficiently and independently without bureaucratic measures getting in the way,” Andrade said. “The pandemic has prevented our usual comforts — hugs from grandparents, brunch with friends, a physical workplace — and we have witnessed and experienced an increase of mental health issues. It’s time we address this now, so even when the pandemic is declared over, we do not revert back to ignoring mental health.”

SB 82 now heads back to the Senate.

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