Op-ed: Mental health and substance abuse

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Rep. Randall Shedd (Cullman Tribune file photo)

Holidays are exciting times for many but tough for some.

For some, holidays are tough because of the loss of loved ones. Those of us who experience this sadness have to enjoy our good memories and focus on our loved ones still with us.

Then, there are many who are lonely, not just during the holidays but every day. Especially some senior citizens.

If you know someone who doesn’t have family, a phone call, a visit would be priceless and the best gift they could get!

And then there are a number of people suffering from daily and severe mental health issues.

Access to mental health care

Alabama is facing federal court action that requires our prison system to correct its lack of mental health care for inmates.

I support solving that problem. But, we shouldn’t stop there! We have to address mental health for all residents of Alabama, not just our prison population.

Governor Kay Ivey, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels will be leading the way in the coming 2020 Legislative Session for meaningful solutions to Alabama’s mental health problems.

It’s a priority this coming year!

Representative Ledbetter has assembled a working group, including some legislators, to work on the issue before the session begins. The Cullman legislative delegation is heavily involved. I am honored to be a part of this working group.

This past legislative session, Senator Garlan Gudger and I sponsored and passed one piece of mental health legislation that mental health professionals and probate judges told us would help.

One thing we learned dealing with our legislative colleagues on that legislation is that our legislative colleagues are hungry for solutions to our state’s mental health problems.

Hopefully, this is the year for access to meaningful mental health care.

Substance abuse and treatment

Substance abuse is a national epidemic and has hit almost every family in our state.

The heartache and pain it has caused is unmeasurable.

A slew of federal funds is now available to address substance abuse. That’s good, but it also means we have to make sure they are properly used for the right reasons.

Funding needs to go for addiction treatment that has a successful track record, and we have a responsibility to see that it does.

We have to find mental health and substance abuse solutions and this upcoming legislative session is the opportunity. We don’t need to miss the opportunity to solve this problem.

Thank y’all for letting me represent you in Montgomery!

Randall Shedd
District 11, Alabama
House of Representatives
1461 Welcome Road
Cullman, AL 35058
Cellular & Text 256.531.6641
Email randallshedd@icloud.com