New program seeks to treat mental health issues stemming from pandemic

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- A ripple effect of the pandemic is being seen by mental health agencies. Organizations providing services are reporting a big increase in need over the past two years. 

In particular, Burrell Behavioral Health reports a 30% to 40% increase in the number of people seeking treatment in recent months. The system is now launching an effort to improve mental health services within the community.  

Cassie Melvin, Assistant Supervisor at OACAC’s Greene County Center, knows how the pandemic can take a toll on mental health.

“Speaking for myself, I struggle with anxiety and the pandemic makes that a lot harder,” she explained.  “And in our office at Greene County we are pretty small with about ten people and I think each of us tried to figure out what we could do to help each other with our morale.”

Melvin is one of those with OACAC receiving training on how to spot and prevent mental health issues among colleagues.  Her employer is just one agency signing up for Burrell’s new ONE (Our Networks Engaged) program.  It encourages businesses and individuals to be the one to make a difference and save lives through a commitment to mental health and suicide prevention.

Melvin said, “I think a lot of people have been affected by mental health issues or suicide in their life whether it was a loved one.  So, I so I think it would be great if we were stopping even just one person from committing suicide.”

Weeks ago we were talking about hospital Covid-19 units being full. Now, it’s inpatient psychiatric patients some hospitals are struggling to serve. CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards says all 73 of his system’s inpatient beds are full.  

“I think of so many people that are suffering from mental health, often that causes them to not be as reliable at their work setting and ultimately perhaps lose their job and lose their insurance and have no access to care,” said Edwards.

The ONE program give businesses and organizations a chance to sign a pledge making mental health and suicide prevention a priority. Employees will be trained on how to start suicide prevention projects, learn about warning signs, take steps to spread awareness and encourage employees to seek the help they need.

Melvin said, “I think that Covid-19 has kind of maybe shined a light on everybody’s mental health and it is really important to take care of it. And, to think everybody in society has been moving towards that. We felt like this was an opportunity to support our staff and make sure everyone is being taken care of.”

Several organizations and businesses have already committed to taking part. The program officially begins September 23rd with an online event where people can learn more and make that commitment.

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