Rep. Geran Tarr

Collaborative Effort by State Lawmakers, Mental Health Professionals, and Advocates Will Help State Policymakers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2017

Juneau – The national, non-partisan Women in Government Foundation has released a tool kit to help lawmakers and regulators across the country develop policies to help those dealing with mental health and substance abuse disorders.  The tool kit is the work of a national task force created in 2016 that includes Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage).

“I was honored to participate in the work of the task force to help raise awareness of the mental health and substance abuse issue that impacts over 60 million Americans,” said Rep. Tarr.  “I believe this tool kit will be valuable for lawmakers, mental health professionals, and advocates in helping shape good public policy based on the latest research and proven techniques.  Mental health and substance use disorders are extremely costly problems in Alaska that we must deal with, especially now as we address our fiscal future.”

One in five Americans has a mental health condition but a majority of them will never receive treatment.  Reasons include a lack of insurance coverage, a lack of mental health professionals, and the unhealthy stigma that is sometimes attached to mental health issues.  A recent Surgeon General’s report found that one in seven people will develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and over 27 million people report misusing illicit and prescription drugs. 

“Substance abuse costs Alaska over a billion dollars a year but it’s the devastation abuse can have on families that is truly heartbreaking,” said Rep. Tarr.  “As the makers of public policy, lawmakers should show empathy and compassion but too often substance abuse is treated with scorn.  Additionally, often limited resources are not put to the best use.  We can and must do better for our friends, family, and neighbors.”

The Women in Government’s National Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder’s notes the growing recognition of the detrimental impact to individuals and society when mental health issues and substance use disorders are not treated.  In addition to the societal costs, allowing these disorders to go untreated results in a huge financial cost to states and individuals.

For more information, contact Rep. Geran Tarr’s office at (907) 465-3424.

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