Eads: Mental health services important in Denton County

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Denton County Judge and Flower Mound resident Andy Eads. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

October is National Mental Health Month, which provides the perfect backdrop to stop and assess exactly, “How are you doing?” As stressful as life is normally, COVID-19 has magnified stressors in everyone’s life and pushed the boundaries of our mental health.

Statistically, Americans rank high in the realm of mental health issues. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 26.3 percent of adults 18-25 suffered from a mental health issue in 2018. During 2009-2017, adults 18-25 suffering from major depression increased 63 percent. The senior population (55 and above) in the U.S. is estimated to have 20 percent of the demographic struggling with a variety of mental health issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 40 million adults, around 18.1 percent of the U.S. population, suffer with chronic anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

The U.S. spent $187.8 billion on mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders in 2013. An estimated $70 billion was spent on depression treatments alone, according to a SingleCare report.

These statistics remind us that many of our neighbors in Denton County are struggling with mental health, suffering in silence at an even deeper level with the added pressures of life due to the ongoing pandemic.

Denton County’s MHMR has reported a true struggle to remain connected to their elderly population since the onset of the pandemic. People are not coming out to seek assistance with their mental health struggles due to the risks of contracting COVID-19.

Thankfully, CARES Act funding allowed MHMR to receive funds as part of Operation: Connecting Lives to purchase iPads to assist in connecting with the elderly population, especially those in nursing homes who have been especially isolated.

Along with serving the elderly population, MHMR works with group homes for men and women with mental health issues. Availability is still open and MHMR is eager to serve any population struggling with mental health. In Fiscal Year 2020, the county budgeted an estimated $1.1 million for MHMR.

United Way of Denton County is another organization that has been on the frontlines serving our residents in many ways including mental health. UWDC leads the Denton County Behavioral Health Leadership Team, which advocates and facilitates for a collaborative person-centered behavioral health system to repair and restore lives. Statistics show one in five residents will be impacted by a mental health condition in a year. An estimated 60 percent of Texans with a mental illness does not receive treatment.

Interested residents can attend a free 8-hour course on adult mental health first aid to equip them with a five-step action plan to respond and refer and adult who may be experiencing a mental health crisis.

In addition, UWDC endorses a new program, “Okay to Say,” by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, which helps teach individuals that it is okay to talk openly about mental health.

Another population in Denton County who has a great need for mental health assistance is our inmates, juveniles and the public in crisis situations.

Incarceration provides a plethora of restrictions, rules and even isolation while still being among a constant population. Our County recognizes the need to serve this population and keep them healthy.

Denton County has spent over $1.3 million to provide mental health assistance for our inmates and the public experiencing a mental health crisis through the Sheriff’s Office Mental Health Investigative Unit and the Denton County Public Health’s Jail Health Program.

In Fiscal Year 2020, the mental health-related expenses in the county’s juvenile division totaled about $475,276.

Living each day in stressful environment that could be unchanging is an area of concern. In Denton County, this is a noted mental health issue that continues to be addressed.

During this month of mental health awareness, let’s do our part to continue these initiatives and assist each other in ensuring mental health services are available to all in need.

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If you have any questions or comments, please let me hear from you. My email is [email protected], and my office number is 940-349-2820. For more information, register for my newsletter at www.Dentoncounty.gov/countyjudgenewslettersignup

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