Mental health issues disrupt family life, the workplace, school and the community. The Mental Health Services and Gaps committee of the Midland County Health and Human Services Council is working to increase awareness of the services that are available for persons with a mental illness. The committee also wants to reduce the stigma often attached to mental illness that can deter a person from stepping forward to seek help.
There are many forms of mental illness including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression. If treated properly with the right medications and therapies, a person can often successfully navigate life. If untreated, a person might have difficulties holding a job, staying in school, and maintaining a relationship. Two worse case scenarios are behaviors that lead to incarceration and sometimes, harm to one’s self, including suicide.
Mental health was set as a priority by the Health and Human Services Council after it was reported in 2016 that almost 800 teens in Midland County had contemplated or attempted suicide. The Council also learned that half of all Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their lives. It was also reported that, nationally, 12% of older adults are depressed and account for 20% of suicides each year.
Several organizations from across the community designated representatives to serve on the Mental Health Services and Gaps committee to address these issues. One of the first initiatives was the development of the Hope Portal, a website that provides information and referrals for mental health services. It’s powered by 211 of Northeast Michigan. Residents can also call 211 to gain the same information that’s listed on the website: www.myhopeportal.org.
Other mental health initiatives in Midland County include Crisis Intervention Team training that was provided to law enforcement officers, a 12-week program offered for free to loved ones of persons with mental illness by the Midland County chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the many services offered by Behavioral Health at Mid Michigan Health and at Community Mental Health of Central Michigan.
In the coming weeks and months, watch for more information on these and other mental health efforts in Midland County.
Sharon Mortensen is the chair of Mental Health Services & Gaps Group as well as the president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation.