Mitch McConnell defends his record on mental health

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Herald-Leader

I don't recall a lot of discussion in the media about what the Watergate burglars found at the Democratic National Committee back in the early 1970s and that's probably because whatever it was, it was far less concerning than the burglary itself.

If Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's famous reporting was replaced with Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis's view of news, Richard Nixon would've happily served his second term and the Democratic National Committee would've come under scrutiny for possession of opposition research.

Shortly after the FBI began investigating a criminal recording at my campaign headquarters, Davis penned an opinion column here echoing the framework of the left-wing journalist who obtained the illegally recorded audio in the first place. The message that sends of course is that the ends justify the means as long as you disagree with the politics of the victim.

Setting aside the obvious breach of privacy allegedly perpetrated by the same partisan zealots who made ethnic slurs against my wife, I'd like to address some of the allegations.

I would think that even the most casual observer of politics would assume a campaign would read the autobiography of a potential opponent. Apparently, that is lost on Davis, who was outraged that our campaign would entertain a private discussion of information made public by a prospective candidate.

But worst of all is the tortured logic that twists this conversation into a claim that I'm insensitive to Americans suffering from depression or mental illness. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of my first votes in the Senate was for the State Comprehensive Mental Services Plan Act, which appropriated grants to states to develop comprehensive mental health service plans. I've voted to extend mental health parity provisions, and in 2008 I voted for the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, which created equality between coverage of mental health and substance-abuse services and the services available for treating physical diseases and conditions.

Mental health issues shouldn't come in second place in Kentuckians' health coverage plans.

Young people, particularly teenagers, too often suffer from depression and other mental health disorders, and therefore require special attention. I supported the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which authorized $82 million for youth suicide prevention programs.

I was also proud to vote for legislation creating the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The NCTSN raises public awareness of the scope and seriousness of child traumatic stress on our youth and works with hospitals, the education system, and child welfare and family service systems to ensure comprehensive, accessible care for children suffering from a wide range of mental health, addiction or traumatic issues.

And because mental health must be a priority for the men and women who have served our country in uniform, I voted for the Veterans' Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act, which requires the Veterans Administration to ensure veterans receive treatment for their mental health disorders from a trained professional.

I'm proud to stand up for Kentuckians in the U.S. Senate, whether it's concerning mental health, children's issues, veterans issues, or anything else — and I have done so consistently throughout my time in Washington. I'm happy to stack my record up against anyone's when it comes to promoting Kentucky and Kentucky interests.

By contrast, the far-left partisans who have proven there isn't a boundary of decency they won't cross in order to attack me aren't seeking to build Kentucky up. They're not interested in helping anyone. They're interested in tearing me and my work on behalf of the commonwealth down.

But I would hope that rewarding potential criminals for their alleged crimes would be a bridge too far for any self-respecting journalist — regardless of who the victim is.

At issue:

April 11 Merlene Davis column, "McConnell owes Judd, constituents an apology; depression is no laughing matter."

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