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  • Madeline Ryan Smith

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

One of the many reasons I am running for state legislature is to expand and improve Georgia’s quality and access to health care. As a person with a disability and the granddaughter of two war veterans, I have always been aware of the importance of mental health care, and how interconnect our minds and our bodies truly are. These experiences have allowed and encouraged me to become a strong mental health advocate as an adult. 

During my time at Georgia Southern, I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology with focus on older adults and aging; as a graduate student, I completed my Masters degree in Social Science. These experiences have allowed me to understand just how much work we have to do when it comes to improving healthcare in Georgia. However, they have also equipped me with the tools to find solutions and make meaningful improvements.

Did you know that 57% of adults with a mental illness in the US do not receive treatment? Unfortunately, that number is even higher in Georgia, with 65% of adults with a mental illness not receiving treatment. These numbers reveal significant shortcomings in our state's ability to provide affordable and accessible mental healthcare services. In fact, 18.5% of adults with a mental illness in Georgia do not have health insurance.

It's unacceptable that Georgia is near the bottom of the nation when it comes to access to mental health care, currently ranking 48th out of 51 states in 2022. (Georgia dropped 2 places from 46th as of 2021).

Simply allowing mental health care to be covered by insurance is not enough, especially when over half of our state is uninsured. We must expand access to health insurance, healthcare, and health education.

It's time to hold our representatives accountable. Those who support bills or legislation that create barriers to mental healthcare should be voted out. We need leaders who are willing to do the work and think outside the box to find realistic solutions to our growing mental healthcare needs, without putting the burden on taxpayers.

Georgia, we have the power to make a change. But it all starts with being registered to vote and showing up on election day. Let's make sure our voices are heard, and let's fight for the healthcare we deserve!


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