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Alexandria, VA — Mental Health America (MHA) will be recognizing today a select group of state legislators who have earned the title of “Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Champions.” They will be honored at MHA’s Regional Policy Council (RPC) meeting, which coincides with the Council of State Governments National Conference in Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati today.

  • Kentucky Representative Joni Jenkins, member of the Child Welfare and Oversight Committee. She is the founder of the South Louisville Opioid Task Force and leads a bi-partisan effort to improve adoption, foster care, child abuse, child neglect and access to health care, including mental health and substance use for Kentucky’s citizens.
  • Kentucky Representative McKenzie Cantrell, member of the Economic and Workforce Development Committee. She is dedicated to healthy work environments, and is outspoken about concerns of parents who are incarcerated for substance abuse issues. She is a strong advocate for improvements in treatment opportunities for families and children affected by substance abuse.
  • Ohio Representative Scott Ryan, Chair of the Finance Committee. He has been dedicated to bringing new money to invest in prevention, treatment, mental health care, and workforce programs through the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education and Safety) Agenda.
  • Illinois Senator-elect Laura Fine currently serves in the Illinois House of Representatives and is the Chair of the Insurance Committee and Vice Chair of the Mental Health Committee. She has championed parity, telepsychiatry, and accessibility for mental health treatment for youth. 
  • Delaware Representative David Bentz, Chair of the Health and Human Development Committee. He has sponsored legislation that created an overdose system of care, strengthened Delaware’s parity law, and created the Behavioral Health Consortium (BHC). 
  • Tennessee Senator (Dr.) Richard Briggs, Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee and member of the Health and Welfare Committee. He was a practicing physician for 37 years, (including serving as an army combat trauma surgeon) and has devoted his work to serving his country and our nation’s veterans. He is is committed to building a mental health system which is responsive to the needs of his states’ citizens.
  • New Jersey Senator Thomas Kean is the Senate Minority and a member of the Senate Higher Education, the Senate Commerce and the Legislative Oversight Committees, where concerns from constituents about denials of care and lack of access to mental health services have moved him to become a champion for mental health parity.

“MHA is honored to recognize these distinguished, dedicated, bipartisan public officials,” said Debbie Plotnick, MHA Vice President of Mental Health and Systems Advocacy. “They are dedicated to assuring, protecting and increasing fair access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment.”

The RPC Meeting Stepping Over Barriers and Building Bridges for Access to Treatment B4Stage 4 is being held in the Grand Gazebo Ballroom at the Cincinnati Marriott RiverCenter, 10 W Rivercenter Blvd, Covington, KY.