Indiana lawmakers taking steps and creating measures to provide better mental health legislation

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are sharing new details about their plans for mental health legislation this session.

A bipartisan group of Indiana lawmakers discussed their ideas at Mental Health America of Indiana’s symposium Friday, where they believe the timing is right and the support from their colleagues is there to pass necessary mental health legislation.

Indiana State Rep. Ann Vermilion

“The tides have turned, and I feel like my colleagues now know that they are only one degree separated from a loved one that’s been walking this journey,” said State Rep. Ann Vermilion (R-Marion).

State Senator Michael Crider (R-Greenfield) is backing a bill that would create a $1 surcharge on cell phone bills. That would generate around $100 million per year to fund the new 988 mental health crisis lifeline and response services.

Indiana State Senator Michael Crider

“I don’t want to be part of creating a system that two years or four years down the road, the money dries up and then we’re right back, everybody will slide right back into doing what we’re doing,” Crider said.

Another bill that was discussed would divert Hoosiers facing jail time into mental health treatment centers if it is deemed necessary and the individual is in need of treatment. State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) is behind that measure.

“Once you get into the criminal justice system, it’s kind of hard to get out,” Steuerwald said. “So we’re trying to enhance the ability for them never to go into jail.”

Bills will be filed closer to the start of the session on Jan. 9.