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A Mental Health Hero

Published Oct. 26, 2016

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As a NAMI Shoreline Board member, a parent mentor with Think:Kids of MGH, a member of Changing Minds Advocacy Group in Killingworth, and a longtime advocate for kids who struggle with behavioral issues, I can unequivocally say that State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-12) is a hero in the mental health community.

The mental health of our children has become a priority in this state and across the country. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School put into focus the need for more accessible mental health services.

Kennedy has helped pass several major pieces of legislation to improve Connecticut’s mental health system beyond what was originally funded in the wake of Sandy Hook. The opioid addiction epidemic in our state and nationwide is alarming. Legislation passed this year targets the problem with limits on prescriptions, electronic drug monitoring, and the requirement that first responders carry Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug that has since saved many lives, and yet the death rate continues to climb.

Senator Kennedy understands the importance of prevention and has found obstacles in our system for helping those whose cries for help have gone unnoticed or unfunded. Many survivors report feeling “no one would listen.” Kennedy led passage of mental health equity legislation this year with strong bipartisan support. This bill is designed to determine if health insurance companies are unfairly denying coverage for mental health and addiction services. The goal is data-driven transparency.

“Without good data,parity laws will be very hard to evaluate and enforce.” Kennedy said in a press release. “I have heard from countless families from across Connecticut that health plans are still refusing to pay for mental health treatments…Doctors and hospitals are frustrated and upset…”

Ted Kennedy, Jr., works across party lines, listens, and collaborates. He deserves our vote on Nov 8.

Divinna Schmitt

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