June 19, 2024

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Lawmaker vows to share story of mental health failure each week

2 min read

State Senator Catherine Miranda made a proclamation after hearing story after story of families losing loved ones through gaps in Arizona’s mental healthcare system.

PHOENIX — One Arizona state lawmaker is making a big promise: reducing deaths of people living with a serious mental illness.

State Senator Catherine Miranda made this proclamation after hearing story after story of families losing loved ones through gaps in Arizona’s mental healthcare system.

She’s been working with a new group called Mad Moms, made up of parents and loved ones who face hurdle after hurdle when it comes to helping someone in their own family get help when they’re living with a serious mental illness – also called SMI.

Some of the issues the Mad Moms bring up are a lack of long-term psychiatric hospital beds for people with the worst symptoms or that care providers aren’t providing enough resources.

And when there are gaps, outcomes can be bad. The 12News I-Team has reported on instances of people being released to the streets, dying, becoming incarcerated or becoming a danger to themselves or others.

RELATED: His mom thought he was at a behavioral health hospital. Instead, he was dead at a Phoenix bus stop

Senator Miranda acknowledged that people with SMIs have a higher risk of dying.

Last year, AHCCCS first published death trends when it comes to people receiving SMI benefits. The report said in 2022, there were more than 1,700 people in that category who died. The majority were natural deaths, but others were listed as homicides, suicides and accidents that some loved ones believe should have been prevented.

On Tuesday afternoon, she made a proclamation to reduce SMI deaths in the state. She also vowed to bring the Mad Moms’ struggles to light.

“As long as this session lasts, every Monday you’ll hear a story of what they’ve been through,” she said to her colleagues in the Senate. “And try to pay attention to each story because you’ll realize the gaps in our system. You’ll hear the struggles that they went through. You’ll hear what part of the system failed them. And that’s where we need to pay attention and get together and fix those areas in our broken system.”

She plans to share a story every week this legislative session, calling it Mental Illness Monday.

Lawmakers and the Mad Moms group hopes to propose legislation in the upcoming legislative session.

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