Congresswoman Craig Fights to Expand Rural Mental Health Resources

Making sure everyone can access the mental health resources they need, no matter where they live
April 26, 2019
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig understands that right now there are insufficient mental health resources in our rural communities.

That’s why she held a roundtable in Wabasha, MN yesterday with community health advocates and providers as part of her district-wide healthcare listening tour, and why she has cosponsored several bills to make sure Minnesotans have access to the full range of mental health services they need.

“Addressing mental health is a critical part of keeping our communities healthy, but unfortunately, people living in rural areas often struggle to find available providers and open facilities in times of need,” said Rep. Craig. “I’m proud to be fighting to expand the availability of these critical resources in the Second District and make sure everyone has access to the services they need to stay healthy.”

“It's hard to imagine in this age of mass communications that isolation could be an issue, but it is for the farming community. The economic reality of stagnant milk prices, rising costs, and disappearing profit margins have taken a toll on farmers’ mental health,”
said Deborah Mills, a dairy farmer from Lake City who attended the roundtable. “The stigma of asking for help, especially mental health help, has to be eliminated. I, for one, appreciate Congresswoman Angie Craig for hosting this roundtable to publicly support farmers’ mental health issues.”

“This event with Congresswoman Craig is particularly important because it presents us with the space to dig into the foundational challenges of mental health care in greater Minnesota - workforce shortage, program access, and reimbursement rates. It also presents us with the space to bring forward solutions and innovations,
said Jinny Palen, Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs. “The challenges in our mental health system developed over several decades and are complex. We know we cannot fix all the challenges in one year or with one solution. But, we can keep working in the right direction with conversations like this one.”

Rep. Craig has taken several legislative steps, including:

  • Cosponsoring H.R.1767, the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act which would extend and expand funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which house programs that improve access to community mental health services;
  • Cosponsoring H.R. 1301, the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, which would make it easier for older adults to obtain mental health care in their own home;
  • Cosponsoring H.R. 884 Medicare Mental Health Access Act, which will allow psychologists to practice under the definition of “physician,” and
  • Joining her colleagues in sending a letter to the  House Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Farm Ranch and Stress Assistance Network, a program authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill which would provide mental health resources specifically for farmers and ranchers.

Rep. Craig’s bill, the State Health Care Premium Reduction Act and several bills she’s cosponsoring to lower the cost of prescription drugs have passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. She will fight to make sure these efforts to address mental health resources are advanced as well.