Georgia Faces Growing Mental Health Crisis: State Takes Action with Historic Funding Boost

The need for mental health resources in Georgia is skyrocketing, with the state experiencing one of the largest increases in adults facing mental health issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 40% of adults in Georgia report feelings of anxiety or depression, highlighting a critical need for support.

Mary Heath, a Georgian suffering from depression, shares her struggle in her book “If You Think You Are Losing Your Mind.” Heath emphasizes the difficulty of finding timely help, recounting a week-long episode confined to her bedroom. “When you are suffering from any kind of mental illness, it’s the most difficult thing,” Heath expressed.

In response to this growing crisis, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is celebrating a historic funding increase—nearly $700 million dedicated to mental health resources and improvements. Commissioner Kevin Tanner acknowledges the challenges ahead but sees significant progress. “Since 2019, we’ve seen around half a billion dollars in new funding for our agency, thanks to the governor and Georgia General Assembly,” said Tanner.

Despite these efforts, Georgia ranks 48th in the nation for mental health care, resources, and insurance, with over 4 million Georgians living in areas lacking sufficient mental health professionals. Tanner identifies the workforce shortage as the primary obstacle. “Fixing the behavioral health system hinges on increasing providers. Recent funding includes over $150 million annually to address this issue,” Tanner explained.

This year’s budget also features a $16 million increase for behavioral health crisis centers, with a study indicating the need for eight additional centers in the next decade. The state has also allocated $1.5 million for the David Ralston Center for Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Georgia, aiming to be a hub for research and training.

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As Georgia takes steps to combat its mental health crisis, officials and advocates remain hopeful that these measures will lead to lasting improvements and support for those in need.

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