Douglas County Mental Health Initiative
By Lynne Marsala Basche
You may be struggling. Someone you know could be suffering. In fact, one in five adults and adolescents will be diagnosed with a mental health issue in their lifetime. In 2014, after seeing a spike of various mental health issues in Douglas County, officials recognized the need to increase community mental health resources.
With the increasing widespread growth of mental illness, the Douglas County Mental Health Initiative (DCMHI) was created with a goal to marshal local public health agencies to work closely with each other and look at mental health needs that might be going unmet, which could lead to potential tragedies. With questions like “Are services as coordinated as they could be?” “Are people falling through the cracks?” and “Do gaps exist in available services that we could collectively address?” the group determined what could be done to more efficiently connect people with the best mental health services by working together to streamline access.
Currently, the DCMHI has 37 members, including the Douglas County School District, the district attorney’s office, Tri-County Health, local law enforcement agencies, area hospitals, Douglas County government, behavioral health facilities, Douglas County Youth Initiative, and various public health resources.
The need for mental health support continues to grow, but it is also always changing. “This is a program that is meant to evolve as we keep our fingers on the pulse of the community,” said Anne Mosbach, DCMHI coordinator. “As community needs change, the DCMHI will shift to meet those needs.”
When asked what she wanted readers to know about the DCMHI, Mosbach said, “We want people to be aware that these resources exist and ongoing efforts are happening.” More importantly, Mosbach stressed that the stigma surrounding mental health needs to change. Mental health conditions do not discriminate, can be treated and are no different than physical afflictions.
When mental health issues are left untreated, the potential for impact beyond the affected person is possible, including families and communities. There is no shame in getting help, and in Douglas County, the DCMHI continues its focus on supporting ongoing efforts.
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