AUGUSTA, GA ( WJBF) –Warren Bowman Jr. knows firsthand the struggle of dealing with mental health issues.

“A lot of people have struggles, but I was diagnosed at 20,” Bowman said.

He now uses his personal experience to be an advocate for others.

“As time progressed, I just became an advocate to help support people,” Bowman said.

As a certified peer specialist and mental health advocate, he said the mental health profession needs more resources.

“One spot I think that’s very needed is helping people with homeless resources and also access to housing.”

The 2023 Georgia state budget includes a 180 million dollar increase in mental health spending — the largest in the state’s history.

While the state continues to deal with a mental health provider shortage, Bowman said he would like to see part of that funding go toward recruiting and retaining more mental health professionals.

“We need more psychiatrists and psychologists which are two different classifications of people who work in a profession to stay in Augusta and not just get their degree from AU and then leave after residency,” Bowman said.

Other mental health professionals said getting more mental health professionals involved in crisis care is critical.

“I think the key to that is going to be increasing our crisis care. Especially these smaller areas and getting our police departments trained so that they know more about crisis care,” Bridge the Gap counselor Wanda Sanders said.

Bowman said getting more providers in the field means getting more patients the help they need.

“The more people that stay in that field then we can open more clinics and different types of substance abuse spots.”