Indiana consistently lands in the bottom tier of several national health rankings. Unfortunately, our state is more than 10% below the U.S. average rate for preventable mortalities involving alcohol, drugs and suicide deaths. Heading into 2021 and coming off of a year-long pandemic that shined a bright light on health disparities among Hoosiers, it was clear that people need more tools to improve their health, both physical and mentally. This session, I supported a new law targeting the serious mental and physical health challenges Hoosiers continue to face.
According to the United Health Foundations' 2020 American Health Ranking, Indiana is near the bottom for critical health factors including smoking and obesity rates, and multiple chronic conditions. With House Enrolled Act 1007 and dedicated funding in the state budget, a new $50 million grant program administered by the Indiana Department of Health will help communities address health issues to improve outcomes for Hoosiers. Through this program, we can launch initiatives tailored to the unique health disparities facing communities. This program will be modeled after our successful Safety PIN initiative helping Indiana reach a record-low infant mortality rate.
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects those with underlying health conditions, and it is also impacting our mental health, exacerbating the nation's overdose epidemic and compounding substance use disorders. According to Indiana University, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers in our state, and nearly 1 in 12 Hoosiers meet the criteria for having a substance abuse disorder. To provide an additional lifeline to Hoosiers who are struggling, I authored House Enrolled Act 1468 in order to launch a 24/7 crisis hotline center. Soon, those in distress can call 9-8-8 and be directly connected to a fellow Hoosier ready to help. The hotline center will provide short-term care for crisis receiving and stabilization services, as well as a 24/7 national suicide prevention lifeline providing free and confidential emotional support to those who may find themselves in a suicidal crisis or under emotional distress.
Whether facing diabetes or a substance abuse disorder, Hoosiers need to be connected to resources to live happy, healthy lives. Targeting Indiana's most critical health challenges and launching a crisis hotline center will help thousands of Hoosiers across our state.
Please, if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or facing addiction, there is help available. Visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org or BeWellIndiana.com, or call 800-273-8255.
State Rep. Steve Davisson (R-Salem) represents House District 73, which includes
Washington County, and portions of Jackson, Lawrence, Orange, Clark and Harrison counties.
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