MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walt Maddox stood in front of the closed-down Greil Memorial Psychiatric Hospital in Montgomery Monday afternoon. He shared how he would bring more mental health resources to the state if elected governor.
“Those who have been vulnerable by mental health illness have been forgotten about,” Maddox said.
Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed stood next to Maddox and shared the stories some families have because of the lack of resources in the state. Reed said many times there are not enough beds in mental health hospitals, leaving people at home instead of in a facility.
“It’s a major problem not having enough beds in this community and around the state," said Reed. “We may have families that essentially have to lock themselves in a bedroom."
He said families take these measures because a loved one may be having a '"spell" or exhibiting symptoms of mental illness.
“I’d hate to see them have to lock a loved one out of the house or maybe allow someone to sleep in the car in the driveway because they are afraid of what they might do,” Reed said.
Scenarios like these he said happens nearly every week.
Walt Maddox outlined four ways he would help bring mental health resources in the state.
- Expand Medicaid
Maddox said the expansion of medicaid is going to provide mental health benefits for those who need it. He said one-third of those eligible nationwide either suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Use an education lottery program to fund mental health programs.
Maddox wants to use this potential money to put $25 million annually into mental health services in schools.
- Make mental health a direct cabinet position
The Alabama Department of Mental Health is already a cabinet position. Commissioner Lynn Beshear reports to the governor about substance abuse and mental health. The department is based off of the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Maddox said he wants to make mental health and substance abuse a separate cabinet.
- Tax gambling if it is made legal
Gov. Kay Ivey said she is proud of the progress the administration has made so far and looks forward to continuing to work together with educators and health care providers.
The governor’s campaign said Ivey secured $11 million for the Department of Mental Health to help children and youth with severe emotional disturbances and those with autism.
Ivey also put Department of Mental health Commissioner Lynn Beshear on Ivey’s SAFE Council to help improve mental health resources in public school districts.