Mental health agencies are pledging to do a better job getting people to the right resources in McLean County. As part of the County's mental health initiative, a group of agencies is reaching out to the public.
Health Department Outreach Director Laura Beavers said many citizens have no idea what's available.
"We want to make sure people know that there is hope and there are services that are available out there to help them. We want to help. That's some of our major initiative here with No Wrong Door. So whoever they call, we're going to link them with the most appropriate services," said Beavers.
Beavers said one to five Americans have a mental illness and it's a leading cause of disability. Human service agencies say PATH, or Providing Access To Help, is the front door for coordinating service, but all agencies are developing ways to refer people to the right place.
The McLean County Center for Human Services Mobile Crisis Team is available 24/7 to assess crisis risk and other mental health crisis in person or over the phone. The Center for Youth and Family Solutions operates the SASS program which serves as the crisis intervention program for people aged 20 and under who have state funded health insurance, such as Medicaid. Chestnut Health Systems' Crisis Stabilization Unit provides 24-hour short term supervised care for people ages 18 and older who are experiencing an acute psychiatric crisis that does not require acute psychiatric hospitalization.
Health experts say people who kill themselves in McLean County are older than the national average. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for teens and young adults and second leading cause for 25-35 year olds. The average age for suicide in McLean County is 48.
Beavers said the economic recession eight years ago created chronic stress over loss of employment or housing for middle-aged Americans. She also said most people who commit suicide had been seen by a primary care doctor two weeks before they committed suicide.
"We have to realize that behavioral health is essential to our health and make it acceptable for people to reach out to get support services that are available. We need to make it so you're comfortable, so you can say to your doctor: You know, I'm having a hard time. Something else is going on," said Beavers.
Beavers said citizens and human service agencies in Bloomington-Normal need to improve interagency relationships, involve consumers in crisis work, and not be afraid to ask for help.