Letter To The Editor: Gratitude And Reflection On Our Legislative Journey For Behavioral Health

Dear editor, "We owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Mark Gordon, whose unwavering vision for a Wyoming where behavioral health services are prioritized and strengthened has been a source of hope for us all."

CSD Staff

March 28, 20243 min read

Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper.
Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

Dear editor:

As the curtain falls on this legislative session in Wyoming, I am compelled to express gratitude on behalf of the Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers (WAMHSAC) and VOA Northern Rockies. Our journey to secure essential enhancements for behavioral health (BH) services in our state has been both challenging and rewarding, culminating in a significant victory after 28 days of steadfast advocacy and negotiation.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Gov. Mark Gordon, whose unwavering vision for a Wyoming where behavioral health services are prioritized and strengthened has been a source of hope for us all. Under his leadership, we have seen what is possible when commitment to the well-being of our communities guides our actions.
This session witnessed the passage of two pivotal bills: SF007 - BHR Vulnerable Adults and SF115 - Behavioral Health Redesign amendments. These are not just legislative numbers but lifelines for many in our state, promising a future where support and care are within reach for the most vulnerable among us. The journey towards their passage was fraught with challenges, including initial resistance that could have derailed our efforts. Yet, through perseverance and collective action, we witnessed the triumph of empathy and evidence over doubt and opposition.
It would be remiss not to acknowledge the champions of Behavioral Health in the legislature – Sens. Fred Baldwin and Eric Barlow as-well-as Reps. Loyd Larsen, Barry Crago, Jon Conrad, Cyrus Western, and Dan Zwonitzer. Their dedication was the catalyst that turned potential into reality, navigating through attempts to veto these bills, and ensuring their successful passage. Their efforts exemplify the best of public service, characterized by a commitment to the health and well-being of all Wyomingites.
As we celebrate these legislative victories, we also recognize the work is far from over. The path ahead remains filled with opportunities to build on the foundation we have laid. Yet, with the support of our state's leaders and the resilience of our communities, we move forward with renewed optimism.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Gov. Mark Gordon and our legislative allies. Your leadership has not only marked a significant milestone for Behavioral Health in Wyoming but also reinforced the power of collaboration and persistence in the face of adversity.

I’ll close by encouraging all who read these words to applaud the value placed on human life by our elected officials. Through their support of Wyoming’s 988 suicide lifeline, and all of these essential enhancements for the Behavioral Health System - Wyoming will save lives, and together we are making this state better and a place we can all be proud to call home.


Heath Steel

President of the WAMHSAC and executive vice president and chief business officer of VOA Northern Rockies.

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CSD Staff