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New report shows Tennessee ranks 28th for mental health service

Posted at 10:09 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-16 11:41:52-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — A new report shows the state of Tennessee is making strides to help those in need. Tennessee moved eleven spots from 39th to 28th responding to the mental health needs of its citizens according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report published by Mental Health America.

The annual ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia examines data trends in various categories relating to the prevalence of mental illness, substance use disorder, thoughts of suicide, and access to care for both adults and youth.

"When you partner with an incredibly provider, mental health substance abuse community, faith-based groups and you partner with your legislature and you partner with governor you can make incredible things happen; it is our goal, we want to be number one in the country.," said Marie Williams, LCSW, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Williams says It's because of funding services like drug court, housing needs and helping the uninsured through the state's Behavioral Health Safety Net program.

Tennessee’s improvement in the ranking was the 4th largest move among states that improved. Additionally, Tennessee’s ranking in adult categories improved to 18th this year up from 28th last year.

"We know that this year any Tennessean who is uninsured, struggling with mental health issues can get help," said Williams who says it's all because of help from providers like Mental Health America MidSouth.

Tom Starling, Ed.D., CEO of Mental Health America of the MidSouth says the organization believes come next year the state could rank even higher.

"I do think will crack into the teens within the next couple of years with things like our behavioral health liaison that we have, with the rural mobile behavioral health clinics that are being instituted with the Governor's focus on safety net and mental health services," said Starling.

Starling says if you can't afford services help is still available at no cost.

"We provide free screenings, we help people when it comes to support and advocacy, referrals, information and education."

In addition to recent state investments in mental health and substance abuse services, TDMHSAS has received more than $10 million in federal grants to respond to behavioral health concerns caused by COVID-19.