In 2021, almost 40% of Pennsylvanians reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, but 25% of them were unable to get the help they need (NAMI).

Over a hundred people sat on the capitol steps today—advocating for mental health services as the June 30th budget deadline approaches.

“We are people who have an illness. Just like diabetes, just like cancer. We are people with an illness,” said Laurie Combs, executive director at Crawford County Mental Health Awareness Program. "It's nothing to be afraid of.”

Governor Josh Shapiro has proposed a $130 million increase in services. How that money is spent matters though. The rally catch phrase is ‘nothing about us without us’.

Organizers shared how last year, $100 million for adult behavioral services was reallocated to school mental health… which had already received funding. This continued staffing and service shortages in communities.

Kathy Quick, executive director of PMHCA (Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumer’s Association), painted a common scenario caused by lack of resources.

“I'm suicidal and I call to get an appointment and 'Oh, we have something for you in six months. Just hang on till then’.” said Quick. "It's ridiculous.”

Today’s rally called for investments in recovery support services, such as emergency hotlines, psych rehabs, and community peer support groups.

“People who have struggled and have had mental health diagnoses or substance use diagnoses, or other things— they actually share that journey with others,” said Quick. “In a way to kind of say, hey, I had that happen too, and here's how we can support you. Here's what I did when I encountered that. You can be well.”

A recovery support community organization pulled rally-goer Brooklyn through her mental health struggles.

“I was bullied in like fifth grade and it got really bad. So I tried to commit suicide,” said Brooklyn, a student who attended the rally. “And I went to a mental hospital and all that stuff, but I finally got the help I needed and I'm better, because Nicholina’s Wishes really helped me."

"I know if I can do it other people can do it if they just get the right help,” said Brooklyn.