One of every 4 Americans will have a mental illness at least once in their lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, untreated mental illness costs us more than $100 billion a year.
Yet, across this country, there have been devastating cuts to mental-health services, putting tens of thousands of citizens at great risk. States have cut more than $1.6 billion for mental health services since 2009.
Investing in early identification, prevention and treatment services for people with mental illness saves lives and money.
Americans deserve to have access to mental health resources. Families deserve to know that resources will be available to them to help their loved ones.
I know all too well the adverse effects of a broken mental health system. Mental illness must be addressed at all levels — and we cannot wait until a crisis has occurred. We must be proactive in providing prevention and early intervention services and protecting effective programs that are helping people today.
We must come together to address these issues. I am committed to working with my House colleagues and mental health professionals and advocates to increase access to mental health services in our communities and all across America.
Rep. Ron Barber is a Democrat representing Arizona’s 2nd District.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.