Group rallies at Capitol for mental health reform

Rally for mental health care reform

AUSTIN - Rallies at the Texas Capitol seem to happen every day, but the rally that happened Wednesday afternoon hit home for veteran Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston). 

"When I started in 1993, first session, I knew then that I had mental illness. I just didn't know how worse it would get. Joke, it's a joke," Coleman said as the crowd laughed.

But behind his joke lies truth. 

"But I do have...bi-polar disorder," Coleman said.

The crowd, filled with patients, family members and health care providers, are the faces of mental illness, who came to rally and talk to legislators about mental health care reform.

"People who need services deserve access to them, no waiting lists," said Greg Hansch, Public Policy Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Texas (NAMI).

Over the last few sessions, Texas lawmakers have put more funding into mental health but the state historically under-funded that care.

This legislative session NAMI's  Austin branch is watching more than two dozen bills impacting mental health.

"Treatment is really the issue and you gotta have money to get treatment," said Coleman.

Coleman said prioritizing mental health will also help in other areas, like reducing the number of children in foster care by helping to treat parents with mental health disorders. And added it will also help Texans live full lives.

"You can do the things that you want to do in life. Just with maybe a few more pills than the other people," Coleman said as the crowd laughed.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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