During this election season The Connecticut Mirror is convening groups of people from around the state to ask their opinions on key campaign issues and their perceptions of the appropriate role of government. The participants in each group share a common circumstance or stage of life: University of Connecticut students, people with children in Bridgeport, and people who qualify as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) in Waterbury.

In this installment, we asked people living with a behavioral health challenge in the New Haven area the following question: If you could make one suggestion to the gubernatorial candidates, what would it be?

Here are their responses, edited for length and clarity (See earlier responses here):

Erin Talbot: Regulate corruption in addiction services, allocate funding to open new centers with long-term programs, pay hospital workers more. We’re already funding the mass incarceration of people struggling with addiction/mental health issues with taxpayer dollars. It’s important to realize we live in a very wealthy state. Some people are not paying their fair share. Mental health should be covered like regular medical care. It’s as if your brain is not an organ.
 Samantha Shapland: Raise the minimum wage to at least $15 per hour. Finding the time and energy to seek help for my depression was not possible during the time that I was supporting myself on minimum wage. It was not until I found a job that paid a livable wage that I was able to work fewer hours, find time to seek help, and be able to afford a therapist.
Amy Johansson: There are many mental health providers that don’t accept Husky D. Government wastes so much money like having to rebuild the New Haven/West Haven area on I-95 or the bus route in New Britain. The money should go to what we need. The people are what matter. When it comes to health care, you need to be an established patient at a doctor’s office, otherwise you’ll find only clinics will take new patients. People wait months for an appointment, and end up at the ED, which is more expensive. I’m very concerned about the cutting of pre-existing health conditions or giving insurance companies permission to raise rates due to this.


Danny Sheehan: My friend was at one of the debates and he said not one of the three candidates said anything about mental health. There needs to be more gun control but not that interferes with the Constitution. I’ve had friends die from shootings. We need stronger restrictions, but we shouldn’t get rid of guns or arm teachers.

Louise Hunsicker: My friend is afraid DSS will take her SNAP [food stamps] away. I make $192 on SNAP and I thank God for it. DSS needs better staffing. I need a good case manager.  

Mark Orcutt: I brought up subject of mental health and addiction to a state rep candidate who said “we’ll talk about that later.” Politicians have no idea how to deal with the problem. Why is insurance so difficult to understand? I don’t understand what half this stuff is… it goes way over your head.

This initiative was made possible through funding by Universal Health Care Foundation and Solutions Journalism Network. 

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