Mental health officials say President’s expanded funding is desperately needed

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 8, 2016) - Among the solutions to violent gun crime in the United States, President Barack Obama is mandating more spending on mental health treatment.

As part of his executive orders announced Tuesday, an additional $500 million will be spent on the expansion of mental health services in the U.S.

Hoosiers who treat the mentally ill are weighing in. Expanded mental health treatment they say is desperately needed in Indiana and could result in a decrease in gun violence.

“For those in Congress who so often rush to blame mental illness for mass shootings as a way of avoiding action on guns, here’s your chance to support these efforts. Put your money where your mouth is,” said Obama Tuesday about his executive order mandating the investment of $500 million for the expansion of mental health treatment in the United States.

“I definitely think we have a long way to go as a country and as a state in treating mental illness,” said Mark Sattler, Director of Counseling for Indianapolis Mental Health Treatment Center, Families First.

Sattler says some of the $500 million announced by the President, is desperately needed in Indiana.

“50 percent of individuals, most studies show, experience mental illness in their lifetime and I don’t think the resources are there in our community to be able to treat that many people,” said Sattler.

Sattler’s staff of 90 full time employees will see and treat an estimated 8,000 patients this year. Thousands more will likely choose to never even seek treatment.

Mental illness is no stranger to Hoosiers. Video captured on cell phone last month shows a mentally ill man lunging at police with a knife. He was shot and killed by IMPD officers.

“There just comes a point when we try our best to talk about mental health, how important it is to have this conversation before we get to these areas… What happens when we arrive on the scene? When we have no other choice?” said Former IMPD Chief Rick Hite.

Governor Mike Pence announced new efforts locally to combat mental health illness as well.

A 159 bed public mental health facility will soon take root on Indy’s East Side all in an effort the governor says to treat those who’ve gone under the radar for too long.

“I think this is the beginning of a new era of mental health treatment in the state of Indiana,” said Pence.

The President has not announced how the $500 million will be invested or if any will wind up in Indiana.

The President also announced plans to make sure background checks vet mental health history as well.

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