Community leaders came together last night to announce a new push for better mental health systems in Bartholomew County and Columbus.
Local leaders in government, health care, mental health and education announced plans to devote resources to address what they see as an urgent need to act on rising mental health challenges in the community. Organizers say that those challenges are creating new strains on city and county services, schools, healthcare providers and employers.
Organizations represented at Wednesday night’s event included the city of Columbus, Bartholomew County, Columbus Regional Health, Centerstone, Bartholomew Consolidated Schools and the United Way of Bartholomew County.
According to presenters, Bartholomew County and the surrounding region served by Columbus Regional Health are far behind the national average in per capita mental health providers. Last year, 40 percent of CRH inpatients in had mental health issues as either their primary or secondary diagnosis and there was a 44 percent increase in youth mental health assessments in the emergency department between 2018 and 2022.
Mark Stewart, head of the Bartholomew County United Way, said that the three year initiative would be divided into year-long phases. This year will be devoted to understanding where the community is and coming up with possible solutions. In 2024, the initiative would begin implementing strategies and in 2025 continue that work as well as finding ways to make the programs sustainable.
They are calling the new initiative Mental Health Matters in Bartholomew County and you can find more information at https://www.mhmbc.org.