Senate Bill 1, Behavioral Health Matters, prompts changes for Indiana’s mental health crisis system. Graphic by Annie Faulkner.
RYANN BAHNLINE | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate Bill 1, Behavioral Health Matters, was passed and sent to the Indiana House of Representatives on Feb. 14. If passed by the house, the bill would provide all Indiana residents with a hotline for mental health, enable mental health professionals to arrive on scene for a crisis and fund the construction of rehabilitation facilities to offer aid. Further, the bill would require the Division of Mental Health and Addiction to establish and maintain a helpline which would provide confidential emotional support and referrals to resources.
Sophomore political science major Abby Fulton is a legislative intern for Faith in Indiana which is a catalyst for marginalized people and people of faith to act collectively for racial and economic justice. Faith in Indiana was the primary organization that worked to write the bill.
“Behavioral Health Matters is essentially a piece of legislation that would create a system that would lessen the need for law enforcement to be involved in mental health crises,” Fulton said. “A big issue within Indiana in general is people don’t have a person to call aside from law enforcement when a mental health crisis occurs.”
The bill would provide funding for the development of diversion programs for those facing mental health challenges instead of going straight into the carceral system. This includes more mental health hotlines for those who call, so they do not have to call law enforcement immediately. There will also be mental health professionals that will be available to respond to the call instead of a law enforcement official.
“The basis of the bill is [that] everyone needs someone to call when something happens, and this bill allows that to happen and put structures in place that make people not intimidated to ask for help,” Fulton said.
“For those who are not comfortable around officers, this would be a great alternative,” Sipes said. “Having someone other than an officer on the other end could be a deciding factor for someone to call for the help they need.”
Fulton said it looks promising that this legislation will go through the house and be signed into law.
Within the last year, the United States has made substantial changes to the mental health and suicide hotline. On July 15 of last year, the former 10-digit national suicide hotline changed to “9-8-8.” The change made the number more accessible and easier to remember, which makes the number easier to call.
Keith Magnus, director of Counseling and Consultation Services, said that across the country, because it is more likely that people will use the number, centers are managing the increased demand for responders on the phone.
“If you’re in Indiana and you call, Indiana is responsible for getting a provider on the line,” Magnus said. “I’m guessing that this bill [would help] to hire more mental health professionals to be able to handle incoming crisis calls.”
Students are able to call CCS directly during business hours if they are experiencing a mental health crisis. However, CCS is not open 24/7, and if students are in need of assistance, they can call the Butler University Police Department, in addition to the availability of the 9-8-8 number.
If the bill passes, the process for students working with CCS will remain the same. Magnus said students should call CCS during business hours if necessary, but should call the 9-8-8 number at times when CCS is not open.
Fulton said that for Butler students, Senate Bill 1 provides an outlet to those who may be intimidated or scared to ask for help.
“As fortunate as we are to have the resources on Butler’s campus, there are waitlists to get into Butler’s therapy and counseling services,” Fulton said. “So, there might be people that are dealing with really tough things that Butler, unfortunately, doesn’t have the capacity to help with right now.”
“There are a lot of people who would use a resource like this, and it is great to have multiple resources and options … people can choose whichever service they would like to use,” Sipes said.
Abby Fulton is available to any students and faculty who may have more questions regarding the bill at email@example.com. If students are in need or know someone who is in need of mental health counseling or assistance in a crisis, call CCS at 317-940-9777. St. Vincent’s Stress Center has a 24-hour line at 317-621-4800. Community Health Network also has a 24-hour line at 317-621-5700.