Georgia House seeks more improvements to mental health

Mental health
Mental health(
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 5:56 PM EST
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia House is pushing forward a plan aimed at doing more to recruit mental health care workers, and finding ways to help people who bounce between hospitals, jails and homelessness.

Representatives voted 163-3 on Thursday to pass House Bill 520, sending it to the Senate for more debate.

Supporters say the measure builds on a big mental health care push spearheaded in 2022 by the late Republican House Speaker David Ralston. They say finding solutions is a multiyear process.


“We got to Everest, to the first base camp,” said Rep. Todd Jones, a Republican from Cumming who is co-sponsoring the bill. “Let’s get a little closer, to the second base camp.”

The bill would try to add more workers by forgiving student loans for nurses and others already in the health care field, on top of the loan forgiveness granted to current students in last year’s law. It would also try to make it easier to apply for and renew occupational licenses, recruit workers from other states and countries, and ease training requirements for workers licensed in other states.

“Workforce is our biggest challenge,” said Mary Margaret Oliver, the Decatur Democrat who is the other co-sponsor.

The measure would also try to make it easier for officials to use a form of court-ordered outpatient treatment created last year. It would create new crisis stabilization units in Columbus, Dublin and the Atlanta area, and mandate more data sharing among agencies to assist with studying problems and planning for services.

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