Friday, January 15, 2016

Rolla Republican, St. Louis Democrat working together on mental health issues

(From Rep. Keith Frederick, R-Rolla)

I am pictured here with my colleague, Representative Genise Montecillo, (D-St. Louis).

We met together twice this week in between our other activities to work on a common interest that we both have regarding the prevention of suicide and expanding awareness of mental health issues such as depression. 

Representative Montecillo is from the minority party, and there are many issues that we don't see eye to eye, which is natural since we represent different constituencies. We have been able to set those issues aside to begin working together to tackle a thorny, difficult, and complicated problem and to try to impact the rate of suicide within our state. I have worked to raise awareness about depression and suicide among medical students in our six medical schools in Missouri. 

 Representative Montecillo and I have joined together to work on this issue, and to try to expand it to address these challenges for all the citizens in our state at risk. She plans to attend an event in St. Louis with me on February 4, 2016 which will seek to raise awareness of depression and suicide among medical students and positions and it will also have the goal of raising funds. The funds raised will go to support a documentary film that is being developed on the topic and the title of this film is "Do No Harm". There will be many in attendance that have been working on this issue, who are knowledgeable about it, and are passionately committed to making a difference. 
I believe the fact that Representative Montecillo and I are working together, in a bipartisan fashion, will help to showcase that this problem is not a conservative or a liberal problem, it is not a Republican or Democrat problem, but rather is a problem that we experience as human beings when we are placed in certain stressful situations over a long period of time. We have discussed a number of other avenues available for us to seek to make a difference, and this will be an ongoing effort for us. I spoke with her about an effort that is underway within the department of social services, where a waiver is being sought from the federal government regarding our Medicaid program. 

It would be a bit into the weeds to tell you the exact mechanism that is being pursued, but suffice it to say that for those individuals who find themselves in extreme duress, and involved either with the judicial system or with law-enforcement, this waiver, if granted, would allow more of them access to mental health care that is sorely needed at a time of crisis. 

This is called an 1115 waiver and it is a method for the state to petition the federal government to allow certain changes to the Medicaid program based on particular circumstances within a state.
We plan to meet with the Department of Mental Health to assess what their current efforts are and to explore what may be done in the future.

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