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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

ME mental health care advocates push for services after Lewiston shooting

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Monday, February 5, 2024   

Advocates for mental-health care in Maine are applauding Gov. Janet Mills' push to increase access to services, following last year's deadly shooting in Lewiston.

Mills has proposed the establishment of a statewide network of crisis receiving centers so that any person can get prompt and appropriate care.

Hannah Longley, clinical director of advocacy and crisis interventions with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine, called them an amazing model that reduces stigma and saves money.

"It helps to divert from higher levels of care," said Longley, "so individuals are less likely to end up in an emergency room or criminal-justice system."

Longley said too often people in crisis end up in county jails where they remain until they've been stabilized.

The governor's proposal builds on the success of an individual crisis center in Portland and efforts to build a new center in Lewiston.

Maine is experiencing a shortage of mental-health care professionals, and state lawmakers have introduced several bills to improve their pay, remove barriers to licensure and reduce their student debt.

Longley said twenty years ago, Maine was the envy of the nation in terms of mental-health services and treatment.

She said without greater support for health-care professionals, it will be hard to earn that reputation back.

"Social work historically has been one of the lowest paid masters-level professions," said Longley, "that still has the same amount of educational debt, and so really trying to make that a viable workforce."

Longley said the Lewiston shooting has brought greater attention to the need for a continuing network of care across the state.

She noted that studies show people suffering from mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than to commit violent acts.




Disclosure: NAMI Maine contributes to our fund for reporting on Mental Health, Social Justice, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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