Group Travels To Washington D.C. For Mental Health Policy Change

Local Texas governments spend $2.2 billion on unmet mental health needs, according to the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

However, many say that's not enough and that a lack of money is causing essential clinics to shut down.

For 40 years, the Galaxy Counseling Center offered mental health services to residents in Garland, but the center recently shut down.

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NBC 5 couldn't reach anyone with the center for answers, but Bonnie Cook, Executive Director of the Mental Health of America Greater Dallas chapter suspects the closure was because of a lack of funding.   

"Lots of places, lots of counseling centers are closing due to lack of funding," said Cook.

Part of the mission of the organization is to make mental health services just as accessible as basic medical services.

That's now a priority for many, as yet another high profile suicide shines a spotlight on a very private battle.

"If you have cancer, diabetes, heart disease, you're at the doctors office way before stage four," said Cook.  "If we got a mental illness, we wait until we are in crisis mode and suicidal and to get help and we are already at stage four."

Cook says people should demand change from their lawmakers and local governing bodies to make suicide prevention and mental wellness a priority.

Next week, Cook and two others will travel to Washington D.C for the annual Mental Health of America conference, where they will meet with federal lawmakers for more funding and policy change.

They also plan to brainstorm with other mental health professionals on better ways to recruit help from like school systems and clergy.

"People are losing their lives because they don't ask for help.  If the outreach we do saves one person, then I think that's worth it," said Cook.

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