BILLINGS – Substance abuse and mental health care affect many Montana families, and those issues took the forefront Friday during U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte’s roundtable discussion in Billings.
Medical professionals in the Billings community joined Gianforte, a Montana Republican, to talk about these issues.
Montana has the highest suicide rate in the country, and drug overdoses account for nearly 250 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ideas to prevent suicide, reduce barriers to treatment and mental health care and increasing access to care in underserved communities were all topics discussed.
“The thing that really sticks out to me was how closely correlated mental health and substance abuse really are,” Gianforte told MTN. “There was a consensus in the meeting that we don’t really have a lot of practitioners. That’s why this new mental health residency program at Billings Clinic is so important. They just had their first year, and the results are encouraging. But we have to do more.”
Gianforte says he’s encouraged to hear how many programs are working.
He says this is the beginning of a discussion that will continue moving forward.
-Reported by Zoe Zandora/MTN News