KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Dr. Eric Harman, a family medicine doctor in Kingsport,  issued the following state in response to Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State address:

“Many who live with mental illness are born with a genetic predisposition and others due to life circumstances or traumatic experiences. While Governor Lee is right to call on us to have a serious conversation about mental and behavioral health, he is wrong to overlook the physical symptoms that can lead to mental illness.

“Treatment for those with chronic pain can lead to a dependence on opioids, a crisis in our state. Living with an autoimmune disease like lupus that disrupts one’s life can lead to depression. Imagine parents missing their kid’s big game because of severe fatigue or the inability to sleep because of relentless and overwhelming pain.

“A national discussion on the realities of mental and behavioral health is long overdue, but so is Medicaid expansion. It is irresponsible to only treat the symptom and ignore the underlying cause. We must not overlook the relation between physical and mental health because for some it might be too late.”