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Letters to the Editor

Public awareness of mental health is crucial

On behalf of everyone in our community who has personal or professional involvement in mental health issues in our community, I wish to thank the newspaper for recently shining a spotlight on the mental health needs of Newton and Jasper County. In this nation, one in five people experiences mental illness each year. That means that every one of us likely knows, loves and/or works with people who are dealing with this invisible but sometimes devastating illness.

That is why, in 2015, Skiff Medical Center joined forces with our local House of Mercy to apply for a grant dedicated to improved mental health offerings and access in our community. The CHI Mission and Ministry Fund grant focusing on mental health access in Jasper County is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the services already offered, as well as improving what is available and identifying the “missing pieces” of what is not.

This is a three-year grant, and we are currently halfway through the time period. We are proud to have accomplished much during this 18-month time period, including creating and distributing 4,000 resource brochures, providing mental-health-specific training to a large number of local law enforcement officers, and conducting monthly collaboration meetings with community stakeholders.

I know the next 18 months will go by in the blink of an eye, as the list of possibilities for improvement in local mental health services seems to grow each day. I am incredibly proud of what has been accomplished so far and hopeful at the potential of the successes that still lie before us.

For a copy of the resource brochure that provides a comprehensive listing of local mental health services, you can visit the Skiff Emergency Department waiting room, county libraries, law enforcement offices and mental health/substance abuse organizations. To learn more about the CHI Mission and Ministry Fund grant focusing on mental health access, I can be reached at jgibson@pcpartner.net.

Julie Gibson

CHI Grant Coordinator

Newton

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