Political Insider

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Georgia governor’s panel calls for more cash for mental health services

A report released Tuesday by a commission created by Gov. Nathan Deal is likely to create a framework for funding and legislative proposals that would expand mental health services and target opioid abuse in Georgia.

The Commission on Children’s Mental Health’s report recommended an expansion of a state program for school-based mental health counseling, new education initiatives for youth and young adults with severe mental illness and better telemedicine infrastructure to help children with mental illnesses.

The findings also called for more funds to expand the state’s suicide prevention strategy, including adding more hours to the Georgia Crisis hotline, and new approaches to help teens and young adults battling opioid addiction.

The report’s recommendations do not include a dollar figure, but several of the initiatives involve significant expansions of existing programs. The governor said in a statement the findings will help guide his proposals to “improve the continuum of care for children’s behavioral health services.”

Deal, who is entering his final legislative session in office, often uses reports from commissions he forms to serve as the backbone for funding blueprints and legislative packages.

He cited another council’s report for his decision earlier this year to add $2.5 million in additional mental health funding for young children. And he’s likely to act on recommendations next year from a panel that suggested the state create a new network of business courts.

Read the full report here.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.