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Nearly 1,000 local, state and justice system leaders gather for first Mental Health Summit

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush and State Representative Greg Steuerwald talk to each other. Holcomb and Rush are seated on a dais, while Steuerwald is in front of them, standing on the floor. Holcomb is a White man with light gray hair and beard, wearing a dark gray suit. Rush is a White woman with brunette hair and glasses. She is wearing an animal print jacket over a white top. Steuerwald is seen in profile, from behind. He is a White man with white hair, wearing a dark suit.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Gov. Eric Holcomb, left, and Chief Justice Loretta Rush, center, speak with Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon), right, before the start of the 2022 Indiana Mental Health Summit.

Nearly 1,000 people met in Indianapolis Friday for what Chief Justice Loretta Rush called a sign of hope for the state – the first Indiana Mental Health Summit.

The event, organized by the Indiana Supreme Court, brought together all three branches of government, leaders from every sector of the justice system and representatives from all 92 counties.

Kicking off the summit, Rush said too often, the criminal justice system is the first path of mental health care – which it’s not designed to be. And she said fixing that requires an all-hands-on-deck approach from the state.

“We will work to make available in every Indiana community a continuum of behavioral health programs, services and alternatives to prevent individuals with mental health illness from ever entering the criminal justice system,” Rush said.

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That will require greater funding. And Gov. Eric Holcomb said providing more support for behavioral and mental health services is a priority.

“In effect, they end up costing us if we don’t tend to them,” Holcomb said.

Republican legislative leaders also called mental health funding a priority ahead of the upcoming budget session.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.