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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Georgia takes aim at mental health care shortages with new legislation

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Tuesday, May 7, 2024   

Georgia is taking on its mental-health care challenges head-on through new legislation.

One bill is aimed at increasing the number of providers in the state. Senate Bill 480 offers loan repayment assistance to mental-health care professionals who choose to work in underserved areas.

Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, highlighted the state's access landscape, noting that of its 18 public health districts, 12 are located in rural areas. She said the goal is to ensure equitable access to mental-health services for all.

"Georgia is terribly short of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family providers, all levels of people that deal with various aspects of mental illness," said Cooper.

According to the Rural Information hub, most of Georgia struggles with having enough mental-health providers. The data shows out of 159 counties, only six have no shortage, and two only have shortages in parts of the county.

Cooper elaborated on the multifaceted challenges Georgia faces in mental-health care, citing historical underinvestment and rapid population growth as contributing factors to the current shortage. She described the evolution of mental-health care policy in Georgia, including previous legislative efforts to promote parity between mental and physical health care.

"We are trying to make up for mistakes of the past and trying to do what's right for mentally ill people and to put their illness on parity with anybody that would have a gallbladder or heart disease," Cooper added.

Cooper pointed out that in this past legislative session, 19 bills were signed to help increase the state's ability to care for mental- and behavioral-health needs. Other legislation includes SB 373, which helps provide expedited licenses to marriage and family therapists.


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