ATLANTA (WSAV) — Under the gold dome in Atlanta, state lawmakers say funding mental health and improving upon last year’s mental health parity law will be a crucial component of this year’s legislative session.

“I think it’s the first contact is when someone calls by first responders. We have seen all over the country how law enforcement does not know how to react with the mental health crisis,” State Rep. Dexter Sharper (D-Valdosta) said. 

State Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah) said, “We will continue to address the outpatient treatment care when it comes to mental health care.”

State lawmakers say a huge part of this year’s budget will be to find the right people for the right job – the right officers for safety, counselors for mental health, teachers for schools and nurses for hospitals.

“I think having more diversity training, and getting more pandemics, EMT, and crisis teams,” Rep. Sharper responded. 

A new mental health law now requires insurance companies to report how they will provide care and track consumer complaints.

“Last year’s bill did have tax credits who practiced in rural areas when it comes to mental health,” stated Sen. Watson. 

State lawmakers will take breaks over the next few months for appropriations committee meetings as they review legislation before it lands on the senate or house floor.