Weekly Columns

This year the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is celebrating 75 years of advancing research and discoveries to improve treatment and give hope to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. The dedication of NIMH scientists has helped modernize how we care for patients.

Investments in mental healthcare are more important than ever, and expanding access to critical care is essential to getting individuals the help they need. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports one in five adults experience mental illness each year and less than half of them receive treatment. 

The discoveries made by researchers are crucial to understanding how we can better support those in need of help. These breakthroughs play a key role in raising awareness and advancing policies to enhance care and treatment.  

Collaborative efforts in Congress have led to passage of important legislation, and I’m continuing to build on that foundation to help save lives by leading legislation to improve mental health resources and expand access to services for populations at risk of suicide and addiction, including veterans and farmers. 

I recently shared the ongoing work in the Senate to address the veteran suicide crisis with the introduction of the Not Just a Number Act. The legislation requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to take a more comprehensive approach and expand its data so we can have a more complete picture of the factors contributing to veteran suicide to help save more lives.

A new survey by the Southwest Rural Health Resource Center that polled rural health stakeholders found mental health has become an increasingly prevalent concern over the past 10 years.

We’re working on several initiatives to strengthen access to mental health services in rural communities. The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2023 is a bipartisan bill I’m championing to establish a grant program for health providers to enhance tele-mental health services.

My colleagues and I are also advocating for the reauthorization of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. This program connects farmers, ranchers and other agriculture workers to mental health programs and resources.  

July 2023 marks the one-year anniversary of the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This easy-to-remember, toll-free number established a quick and convenient way to connect individuals in need of emergency mental health assistance with crisis centers staffed by trained counselors for free and confidential care.

Nearly five million people reached out via calls, texts and chats for help since its launch. However, the majority of Americans are unfamiliar with the 988 Lifeline. It’s my hope this message will help educate Arkansans about this crucial resource. 

It is critical for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to be met with an adequate level of care in response. In order to provide this care to patients in crisis, I will continue advocating for improved access, treatment and resources. When we make these investments, our loved ones, friends and neighbors struggling with their mental health can have hope and support that saves lives.