On Aug. 30, a woman walked into Congressman Danny Davis’ office, poured hand sanitizer over herself and set herself on fire. I still think about this incident, and for many people it may be difficult to grasp how someone could harm themselves in this manner.  

However, I don’t ask myself why this woman did what she did. The real question is: “What could have been done to help her long before this happened?”

When I heard about what happened at Cong. Davis’ office, I was still working on legislation requiring mental health screenings for school-age children. My heart hurt for that woman, and it made that proposal even more important to me so that just maybe it could help someone struggling just like her. 

It was signed into law on Friday.

I want young people struggling with mental health to have the option to get help. I want families to know that if their child is battling a mental health issue, it is normal, they have treatment options, and it does not have to stand in the way of their greatness.

Young people should know they are not alone in this fight. There are so many people in our state, country and world who have the same issues they do. But most of all, know that you can get through this.

I look forward to the implementation of this legislation. We are taking an important step in fighting the stigma of mental health, combating suicide and creating a better learning environment for all children.

Requiring screenings for our children is a good step forward, but we are going to have to invest more effort and resources to deal with these issues. I will continue working with advocates and communities to bring more comprehensive solutions to mental health issues.

 I encourage communities, families and friends to spread awareness of mental health, and continue fighting for those who are suffering.

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