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.”