February 28, 2019

Leading up to his state of the state address next Monday night, Governor Lee continues to demonstrate his priorities through a series of announcements of funding initiatives expected to be included in his forthcoming budget, also to be released on Monday. 


This week he announced three priorities to increase access to mental health treatment and expand suicide prevention efforts across the state. Gov. Lee is proposing $11.2 million in new funding to expand access to services for Tennesseans living with serious mental illness. This investment seeks to cover an additional 7,000 uninsured Tennessee adults through the state’s Behavioral Health Safety Net program, which provides several essential mental health services. Additionally, the investment addresses increasing costs at the state’s four regional mental health institutes and ensures that those facilities will continue to provide high quality care to Tennesseans with the most significant psychiatric needs.


To complement Tennessee’s work in recovery courts and alternative sentencing measures, Gov. Lee is also proposing a $3 million investment to the Creating Homes Initiative. Since 2000, the program has created more than 20,000 quality, permanent housing opportunities for those living with mental illness. This new investment will expand recovery housing options for Tennesseans struggling with substance abuse.

“In addition to measures that address substance abuse and mental illness, we are tackling Tennessee’s shockingly high suicide rate that is now 20 percent higher than the national average,” said Lee. “There is tremendous opportunity to engage public-private partnerships as we work to prevent suicide and save lives.”

To address this issue, Gov. Lee is proposing a $1.1 million investment that will expand the state’s partnership with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) to establish a new regional outreach model and increase the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ efforts to focus on interventions at the community level using evidence-based practices.


Click here for a bill report for 2/28/2019.