Virginia Organizing calls on Ben Cline to support expanding health care to increase access to mental health services

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:46 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia Organizing is calling on Congressman Ben Cline to push for expanding health care.

“The system is overworked and underpaid. There are so many people that need services and not enough option, and there are so many loopholes that are set up against people,” Allison Powell, a community leader with Virginia Organizing, said.

Community members are meeting outside Cline’s Staunton office Wednesday evening at 6:30, where people will share their stories about how they’ve been directly affected by the mental health system.

Andrea Jackson, another member of Virginia Organizing, had to wait eight months before she was assigned a case manager when she reached out for help.

“I’m a disabled veteran and I’m a high functioning so I can advocate for myself, which I do, and I have a supportive family, but other people don’t have those resources, and I’m very concerned about the people who have fallen through the cracks,” Jackson said.

Powell explains how one in five adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness and President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan could help those people.

“And taxing the wealthy and the large corporations to supplement this federal funding that we can continue to advocate for those people who struggle with mental illness,” Powell said.

When state health facilities closed because it wasn’t safe for them to keep accepting new patients due to lack of staffing, there were many adults without services they need.

“Virginia is actually ranked 39 out of 50 states for the number of health care workers provided per 100,000 people,” Powell said.

And the pandemic has heightened that need for services.

“Anxiety rises or inability to go to counseling services that they normally would be able to do but because of COVID, they can’t,” Powell said.

That’s why they are asking Rep. Cline to support the reconciliation bill.

“This budget is very important and all the full $3.5 trillion be passed so that it can help and funnel down to the community,” Jackson said.

Part of that money would also go toward paying mental health workers better wages.

“If we keep on the track of not paying the workers the fair wages they deserve for the hard work they do, people are going to keep quitting.”

Jackson suggests reaching out to Congress and the Senate to ask for change and to also reach out to state leaders.

WHSV reached out to Ben Cline for a response but has not yet heard back.

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