In July 2015, the Alliance initiated a subcommittee focused on Access to Mental Health Services, one of the identified priority focus areas. The topic covers a range of issues, including promoting available services in the county, substance abuse and prevention, and bullying prevention/school-based health. Target populations for this work range from youth to elderly residents, developmentally disabled adults and children, and those with limited access to important mental health services for a variety of reasons.
As mental and physical health are fundamentally linked, this subcommittee’s work is closely related to the other subcommittees’ efforts targeting obesity and access to healthcare. There are multiple associations between mental health and chronic physical conditions that significantly impact people’s quality of life and demand for services. The World Health Organization sums up this linkage with the following statement: “There is no health without mental health.”
We know the following:
- Poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions.
- People with serious mental health conditions are at high risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions.
- People with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health.
Subcommittee’s Main Objective:
- Increase the percentage of residents who know where to refer someone for mental health/substance abuse services.
Chatham County’s Challenges:
Chatham County has had major turnover in local mental health services providers in the past seven years, especially the designated community clinics required to serve uninsured and those with Medicaid only. The Siler City area has the greatest need for these services due to the concentration of low-income and underinsured residents, including the Latino community that makes up half of the town’s population. The school system has also reported concerning levels of bullying, including through social media. In the area of substance abuse, Chatham County has seen increases in addiction to prescription painkillers, which has been a trend throughout the country.
Subcommittee Focuses so Far:
- Developing a strategic media plan to raise awareness, both among providers/agencies and the public, of how to access mental health services in Chatham County and availability of specific services. This includes designing and placing billboards focused on reducing the public’s apprehensions about mental health and substance abuse services.
- Developing a webpage resource guide that lists all mental health service providers in the county.
- Working with the school system on anti-bullying strategies.
- Working with partners to reduce unintended drug overdose.
Access to Mental Health Services Subcommittee Minutes
We welcome all interested residents and organizations to join the Alliance and our subcommittees. If you would like to be a part of the Alliance’s efforts, we welcome you to join us by competing the survey at Get Involved or by contacting the Alliance Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 545-8443.