Mental health care providers discuss local needs

By: Marie Luby Email
By: Marie Luby Email

Mental illness affects one in four adults in their lifetime, and it's the leading cause of disability for people 15 to 44 years old.
WYMT's Marie Luby sat down with local experts to talk about the needs here in eastern Kentucky.

In a small town, people talk. Local mental health experts say that's a major reason why many eastern Kentuckians with mental or emotional problems suffer in silence.

Dr. Mark Phillips with the ARH Psychiatric Center says, "A lot of people wait until the moment of crisis to come and get treatment. Because of the stigma they don't go into the community mental health centers as often."

Access to treatment is historically difficult for rural populations. Eastern Kentucky has few private practice psychiatrists and therapists, and waiting lists have been the norm in many treatment programs. Kentucky River Community Care now has a system to schedule appointments for people the same day they call for help.

KRCC nurse practitioner Sandy Pratt says, "The longer someone has to wait to get into treatment the less likely they are that they're going to show up for that treatment. So we have had tremendous success with this same day service and same day access."

Mental health care providers say recent layoffs and flooding have led to an increase in the number of people seeking professional help.

Dr. Phillips says, "That's something that really affects a person's self esteem and their depression to where they may get down and feel like, 'You know I can't provide for my family anymore,' and start questioning whether it's worth living."

You can call the NAMI hotline at 1-800-257-5081 or the KRCC crisis hotline at 1-800-262-7491 for help. Both can give information about free programs for the mentally ill.

You can watch the entire discussion about access to treatment and related topics on the June 1st edition of Issues and Answers.

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