NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - Tennessee needs more facilities for those with mental health issues, a top Republican state lawmaker says.
"I think we need to re-direct funds and go back to facilities, beds and professional staff because I don't think what we are doing now is working,"Tennessee House Republican Leader Glen Casada told News 2 last week.
His words mean mental health treatment and funding could be a major issue in this year's state elections and next year on Tennessee's Capitol Hill.
Several state-run facilities have closed in recent years in favor of a more community-based approach to deal with mental health patients, but Rep. Casada says
"the shootings at Waffle House, the shootings around the country," are examples of suspects falling through the mental health cracks.
Stopping a suspected Waffle House or school shooter is a complex question with many levels to address, but state lawmakers know the conversation must be had about what to do --especially in a state seen as needing more mental health professionals.
"We have an obligation,"Rep. David Hawk told News 2 in April.
"These are some of the folks that are having issues that many of us don't understand, but we need more facilities, more hands-on-care for these individuals."
Representative Casada says money from state surplus funds might be a way to pay for increased mental health needs.