Mental health initiative launches April 5
Community members are invited to attend an event that will mark the official start of a new collaboration focused on mental health.
There will be a kickoff event from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at The Commons on April 5 to mark the beginning of “a community-wide initiative addressing challenges and improving the mental health system for the wellbeing of Bartholomew County,” according to city officials. The night will include remarks from experts and local leaders in health care, education and government.
The event is presented by Mayor Jim Lienhoop, city of Columbus; Carl Lienhoop, Bartholomew County commissioners; Regional Executive Officer Suzanne Koesel, Centerstone Indiana; President and CEO Jim Bickel, Columbus Regional Health; Superintendent Jim Roberts, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.; and President Mark Stewart, United Way Bartholomew County.
Local leaders have said that the new initiative is aimed at addressing a deepening mental health crisis in Bartholomew County and the surrounding area.
Over the past year, Columbus Regional Health’s Healthy Communities initiative has been laying the groundwork for the new mental health effort, including getting resources aligned and staffing in place, said Julie Abedian, CRH vice president of community partnerships and corporate responsibility, in a previous interview.
The mental health initiative — which is expected to involve the Columbus city and Bartholomew County governments, as well as the county’s health system, local behavioral health system and local education system — will largely be modeled after the collaborative effort that led to the creation of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress, or ASAP, an organization that was launched in 2017 as part of the community-wide effort to combat the opioid crisis and substance use, officials said.
Abedian said that the push for the mental health initiative has been driven in large part by the 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment for CRH’s service area.
The assessment found that:
- The suicide rate for the service area roughly doubled from 9.2 per 100,000 people from 2007 to 2009 to 19 per 100,000 from 2017 to 2019, according to the 2018 and 2021 assessments.
- Nearly 1 in 3 respondents in Bartholomew County had been diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
- There were considerably fewer mental health providers per capita in Bartholomew County than the U.S. at large.
- 25.9% of respondents in Bartholomew County rated their own mental health as “fair” or “poor,” compared to 14.9% in 2018.
“We have a history in our community of being able to improve our community’s health when we work collectively,” Abedian said. “…Even though the mental health crisis seems overwhelming and daunting, we do believe and have confidence that if we approach this set of issues the same way that we did with the opioid crisis and with infant mortality, that we can make a positive impact on our community’s mental health.”