A year ago this month, my best friend, Jessica, experienced a harrowing mental health crisis that – despite the efforts of her closest friends and family to navigate a deeply broken system – culminated in her taking her own life.
The incredibly challenging system in Idaho does not make essential mental health resources easily accessible and all 44 counties in the state are currently designated as mental health shortage areas, according to federal standards and guidelines. This means that, across the state, these lifesaving resources are not readily available.
This realization paired with the heartbreaking experience of losing a friend is why I am dedicating my career to improving the system we have to save lives and keep friends and families whole.
When Governor Little launched the Behavioral Health Council earlier this year, I was beyond honored to be asked to be a part of this extremely important work. As the council moves forward to address Idaho’s broken system with a strong focus on both mental health and substance abuse, I am dedicated to fulfilling the vision of the council by helping adults, children, and families in our community receive the behavioral health care services they need when they need them. Through the work we are doing, the council seeks to make Idaho communities a safer and healthier place to live.
Unfortunately, it took my best friend’s death to get some of Idaho’s most influential people to discuss suicide and mental health seriously. But I am just as stubborn as Jess, and I intend to fight every day to make sure this issue is brought to light so no one else has to lose their best friend the way I did.
The Behavioral Health Council held its first meeting earlier this week and, although there is much to be done, I am hopeful that our work will positively impact the lives of Idahoans across the state.
If you are interested in learning more about the council or want to share your story with me, please visit my website. Since her passing, sharing Jessica’s story has been pivotal in bringing awareness to this heavy subject that unfortunately impacts so many people within our community.
As always, know that I am here to advocate for you and to answer any questions that you may have.