OTTAWA — A major focus of the Putnam County Health Plan for 2018-2020 is on mental health awareness and treatment, said employees of the Putnam County Health Department Thursday.
According to information provided by the health department, 15 percent of people with incomes lower than $25,000 reported feeling sad or hopeless for two our more weeks at a time, while 9 percent of people with incomes higher reported feeling hopeless and sad for weeks at a time. Of those Putnam County residents 3 percent had suicidal thoughts while 7 percent used a service or program to help with emotional problems, depression or anxiety.
Joan Kline, with the Putnam County Health Department, said one of the strategies she would like to see implemented to help people with mental illness is to inform and educate them about what programs are available so they can get help. People don’t know what services are out there to help them, she said.
Aaron Baumgartner, executive director of Pathways Consoling Center, said there is a severe shortage of psychiatrists in Ohio. It’s so severe people have to wait three months or more to find help with their illness, he said. Baumgartner said to help fix this issue in Putnam County Pathways Consoling Center has begun accepting walk-ins. People can now get treatment within 10 days, sometimes even sooner, he said.
Kline said professionals are working to eradicate the stigma placed on the mentally ill. Mental illness is like physical illnesses and should be treated the same way. Like physical illness the patient isn’t at fault for the mental illness they have, she said. Mental illness isn’t something an individual chose, it’s something that is happening to them and needs to be treated, Kline said.
According to health department information in 2014,one adult in Putnam County committed suicide, three people died of suicide in 2015 and four committed suicide in 2016.
“I think it’s received a lot of attention lately because of national incidents,”Baumgartner said of mental illness. “It’s part of the national dialog.”
The Putnam County Community Health Improvement Plan also explored how the county can tackle problems like preventable and chronic diseases like obesity, different forms of abuse and safety issues, such as parents neglecting proper use of car seats.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362