Getting Serious About Hoosiers’ Mental Health 

Image of the Indiana Capitol Building.

It’s difficult to place a number on the cost of one’s suffering—but it is something that must be done. Mental illness holds one in five Hoosiers—a disproportionate share of which are people of color—in a tight grip. It will take a combination of intentional outreach, supportive services, and funding to help someone break free. 

$4.2 Billion

That is the estimated annual cost of untreated mental illness in our state. Researchers with the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission and Indiana Family and Social Services Administration estimate that number represents 1.2% of our state GDP or the equivalent economic impact of 100,000 jobs. 

In order to thrive, Indiana needs to invest in its core economic asset—its people. Let’s be clear: getting our neighbors the help they need is not only the right thing to do, it’s the right thing for business. So where do we start? Fortunately, we already have, making great strides in recent years. The Central Indiana business community has rallied around our people, working together to craft the BEI Impediments to Health Playbook and Workforce Pilot so employers can help their employees and their families grow and thrive.  

Additionally, the state established the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission to create a framework for the future of mental health care in our state. The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, but to reach it, we must implement the Commission’s recommendations. 

Business Equity for Indy’s member companies and community partners are grateful for the efforts of leaders like State Senator Mike Crider, who is working with the General Assembly and state of Indiana to take the next step and begin building a three-tier Comprehensive Crisis Response system. 

Tier One: Someone to Contact: 988 Crisis Line Operators 

Tier Two: Someone to Respond: Mobile Crisis Teams 

Tier Three: Someone to See: Crisis Stabilization Units 

This system is critical for our state, and in this upcoming legislative session, we must ensure that these structural reforms and investments are implemented equitably. The Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative (IAAQLI) found that the black community is concerned with the lack of mental health resources that exist statewide. Faith in Indiana, a group of faith leaders and community members, is a strong voice for promoting equity in state-funded programs too. 

There are many more organizations and individuals who know—and have made it their mission to prove—that equity is critical to the competitiveness of our state. As businesses and corporations, we do everything we can for our employees—now it’s time to take those company policies statewide. 

We as a business community have a major opportunity during this next session to work together and collectively advocate for the quality of care that all Hoosiers deserve. 

Seven million people are counting on us. Let’s get it done. 

If you are not a member of Business Equity for Indy and want to promote positive change, join us

Blog authored by Mamon Powers III President, Indianapolis & Executive Vice President, Powers & Sons Construction.

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