Ryan Quarles’ Bold Idea To Address Mental Health

“It’s time to take what we have learned by our ‘Raising Hope’ campaign and develop a national model about how to treat and help those suffering from mental stresses, illness, and unfortunately, those with thoughts of violence both to themselves and others.”

America is experiencing a mental health crisis. It always existed, but nobody knew how severe of a problem it was until the COVID lockdowns revealed the unfortunate undercurrent that we now know affects far too many Kentuckians. Everything from body-image issues with teenagers stemming from social media to the loneliness everyone experienced when the government forced small businesses and churches to shutter their doors, we are seeing what people are struggling with turn in to unhealthy behavior. We need a Governor that takes mental health seriously, and I’m the candidate with a track record of actually doing something about it. 

As Agriculture Commissioner we decided to do something bold about addressing mental health awareness & stress and invented a program to address it years ago. In 2021, my office launched a first-of-its-kind effort called ‘Raising Hope’ which elevated and promoted our now nationally recognized program which, as Governor, I hope to expand. By securing funding from the General Assembly and a USDA grant, we kick-started the conversation about the now-alarming rates of mental health issues. Today ‘Raising Hope’ is getting rid of the stigma unfairly attached to mental health treatment and has partnered with nursing schools across Kentucky among others to raise awareness with policy makers, provide resources to those who need it, and make it easier for Kentuckians to talk about an uncomfortable subject. Collaboration, strategy, and vision brought this together, and now it’s time to do more.  

Through ‘Raising Hope’, we worked and successfully helped address these needs by reaching people where they are. It’s been about collaborating with healthcare providers, nurses, social workers, and more who can help and provide guidance. We have developed a mobile app, invented our own awareness curriculum, developed promotional materials, and have brought our program out to rural and urban Kentucky. Best of all, hundreds of nursing and healthcare professionals are now aware of ‘Raising Hope’ already. As Governor, we will replicate what we did for rural Kentucky across every community and tackle the obstacles that get in the way. As Kentuckians, we owe it to each other to check in and do something instead of just talking about it.  

In the wake of violent crime and the tragic mass shooting in Louisville I know that the groundwork that we’ve laid with ‘Raising Hope’ can serve as a model which can be scaled-up. And let’s not forget, mental health just isn’t about addressing and preventing destructive behavior, it’s also about a healthier Kentucky. Whether it be social media shaming, the loss of a loved one or a job, or even cries for help, we as a society need to become more comfortable with looking out for each other instead of shaming those suffering through mental health struggles. Asking for help should be accepted and it starts in our schools, at the workplace, and with our healthcare community.

It’s time to take what we have learned through our ‘Raising Hope’ campaign and develop a statewide model about how to treat and help those suffering from mental stresses, illness, and unfortunately, those with thoughts of violence both to themselves and others. As a candidate, I’m proud that we have a track record of doing something, rather than just saying something.






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