9 legislators recognized for championing mental health

Mental Health America honored nine state legislators who have championed mental healthcare and resources in the U.S.

The nine legislators were recognized by the national nonprofit organization for prioritizing mental health resources, pioneering state legislation to improve access to care and expand crisis care services, according to a Dec. 20 news release from the organization.

The nine honorees were:

  • California Assemblymember Akilah Weber, for advocating for mental health, women’s rights and civil rights. 


  • Colorado Sen. Cleave Simpson, for bipartisan leadership in introducing and passing Colorado's  988 national suicide prevention lifeline network bill.


  • Hawaii Sen. Karl Rhoads, for his work as a member of MHA Hawaii's Mental Health Task Force, participating in the state health department's Involuntary Hospitalization Task Force, and being a part of the legislator group that established Hawaii's Assisted Community Treatment law.


  • Massachusetts Rep. Jamie Belsito, for his work to improve maternal and perinatal mental health for mothers and families.


  • Ohio Rep. Dontavius Jarrells, for his work as co-chair for the Ohio Legislative Mental Health Caucus, providing leadership on bills aimed at ending the stigma associated with mental illness and for his guidance on equity and nondiscrimination while creating the Ohio Fairness Act.


  • Ohio Sen. Stephanie Kunze, for serving as co-chair of the Ohio Infant Mortality Commission, working on state criminal justice reform and expanding telehealth services statewide.


  • Tennessee Rep. Cameron Sexton, for putting state funding back into mental health and appropriating 2022 funding to expand statewide mental health courts.


  • Washington Rep. Tina Orwall and Sen. Manka Dhingra, for their work on the passage of the state's 988 legislation, which converted the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's suicide hotline to three-digit number and increased funding to expand the hotline and train more call center counselors.  


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