'This is everything' | Mom hugs Speaker of the House after Georgia passes landmark mental health reform

ATLANTA — It’s not a coincidence Georgia’s mental health reform bill is number 1013 -- that’s the code used when someone is involuntarily being taken for a mental health evaluation. On Wednesday, that number took on a different meaning.

As lawmakers celebrated the unanimous votes in both the House and Senate to pass the measure, one mother stood grateful but numb. Her daughter Kayleigh was not by her side, because just days earlier, she had been the subject of a 1013 and was currently in a crisis stabilization unit.


“I think for the 17th time, I’ve lost count,” said Christina Henry.

Georgia currently ranks near the bottom, if not last, for access to mental health care. Lawmakers say the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act will change that.

Parity essentially means if one's insurance covers mental health, then one should be able to access a therapist to talk about depression just as easily as one can get treated for a broken arm. The federal government mandated parity in 2008, but only now will the state have a way to enforce it.

The bill was a culmination of years of research and advocacy, that culminated this year in the support of Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston. For two months it weaved its way through committee meetings, enduring nearly 600 changes along the way.

But as lawmakers enjoy the accolades, it is mothers like Henry that feel the emotional weight of being denied care. 

[This article was originally published by 11Alive.]

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