Hundreds of people took to the Vermont Statehouse Wednesday for Mental Health Advocacy Day.
People spoke with state leaders about their experience living with a mental illness, while advocates made the case for making mental health a priority this legislative session.
Approximately 125,000 Vermonters are affected by a mental illness — about 1 in 5 people — and advocates say the state needs legislation that will invest in community based programs.
Community programs are underfunded and patients face lengthy wait times for treatment. Hospital emergency rooms are often backed up with people in distress, they said.
“We’re looking to get people the right care, at the right time, in the least restrictive environment,” said Laurie Emerson,executive director at National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Let’s provide more community support so that we can help people deescalate a situation instead of letting it get to that crisis level.”