An Important Day For The Mental Health Collaborative

May 1st Was An Important Day
The Mental Health Collaborative 
Of Indian River County

So why  The Economist logo?
Its relevant because in the April 25th – May 1st issue, in an article entitled “Telling the truth about mental health,” it speaks to the challenge for the Mental Health Collaborative for Indian River County.
Why was the article so relevant?  Because, as it reports:
“One in five working age people in rich countries suffer from a mental condition each year.  About a quarter of those suffer from severe illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and the rest from less debilitating ones such as mild depression or anxiety.”
“Estimates from several rich countries put the economic cost of mental illness at 3-4% of GDP.  Around a third of that is the cost of treatment; the rest is from lost productivity and the payment of disability benefits.  Worklessness and mental illness feed off each other.”
“Half of adults with long-term mental conditions suffered their first symptoms before turning 14.”
Two weeks ago we wrote about how the Mental Health Collaborative is developing a mental health “connections” center in Indian River County.  It is going to be a center where you or someone you know, can go, be assessed, evaluated for financial assistance, receive help determining through an integrated network of providers, which provider is most the appropriate, make an appointment for you and follow-up to help you with your medications and make sure you take them.
It would also provide transportation assistance and be combined with a stigma prevention program; if you are experiencing disgrace because of your circumstances.

This would be the first mental health connections facility of its kind in the Country.  There is only one other similar program, in Colorado, formerly the Larimer Center for Mental Health, now under the umbrella of Touchstone Partners.

But the difference between the Larimer program and the Mental Health Collaborative program is there is considerable healthcare competition in Larimer County, Colorado; it does not avail itself to an integrated network of providers.  Whereas here, in Indian River County, there is not much competition and there is considerable community support for healthcare providers to work together.  It is a very attractive community to initiate such a program.

According to Michael Felix, whom we wrote about last week, a mental health connections center in Indian River County would be an opportunity to “get ahead of the game and figure out how to do it before it becomes a requirement imposed on us.”

Now, what about May 1st?  A few months ago the Mental Health Collaborative send out a “Request for Assistance” to relevant not-for-profit organizations to establish the connections center.  Interested parties were to respond by May 1st.

Perhaps a not-for-profit has empty office space and is stuck in a lease, which could serve as a headquarters.  Or one could allocate two volunteers for 20 hours a week?  Maybe there is available office furniture and equipment?  Perhaps marketing and fundraising efforts could be contributed.

In any event, according to Mr. Felix you have to start somewhere and “we will build it over the next couple of years.

But one of the greatest challenges, once again according to The Economist, is the stigma of mental illness.  “The prospect of prejudice leads many with mental illness to conceal their conditions and avoid seeking help.  Even if they know better than to believe that mental illnesses are untreatable, or that all sufferers are delusional, they may fear being shunned by friends or employers.”


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