Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 31, 2013

Mental Health Awareness month over; need for awareness not

Rob Cox
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — On May 6, acting upon a request from Centerstone Mental Health Services of Greensburg, the Decatur County Commissioners formally declared May Mental Health Awareness month in Decatur County.

Kelly Benedict, Clinic Coordinator of Greensburg, recently talked to the Daily News about the declaration’s importance in helping continue the battle to further educate the public regarding mental illness and mental health.

May was National Mental Health Awareness Month, but Benedict wanted a local declaration, in part, because statistics show that fewer than 30 percent of people who experience a mental health disorder get the services they need.

“We saw 831 people in Greensburg last year,” she said. “But so many people experience mental illness and mental health issues without seeking treatment.”

With that being the case, Benedict added, local declarations like that of May 6 help spread the word to larger groups of people, reaching, perhaps, someone who might not otherwise seek help.

“Treatment for mental-health problems is more effective than ever,” she added. “We want people to understand that. In treating people, we offer extensive resources and skill development. We build upon strengths the individual already has.”

Asked the most prevalent types of mental-health disorders treated by Centerstone Greensburg, Benedict mentioned depression, anxiety and substance addiction.

“We also see a lot of trauma recovery, too,” she said. In example, she mentioned loss and bereavement, and child abuse and domestic violence recovery.

She added, too, that certain types of mental-health problems can be situationally and even seasonally dependent.

“Sometimes we’ll see higher rates of depression and anxiety around the holidays,” she said. “Sometimes a personal event, like an anniversary or the death of a loved one or a job loss, can be a trigger.”

Moreover, Benedict explained, if a person loses a loved one in the summer, summertime might serve as a triggering event for that person moving forward. People can also become depressed based soley on the season of the year, a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Benedict spent 19 years in Indianapolis working as a therapist and said she knows of no significant difference between the types of mental health issues seen in an urban environment as opposed to a rural one.

Instead, she explained, there tend to be subtle differences between the two settings.

“When it comes to substance abuse,” she said, “heroin might be more popular in an urban community, whereas rural substance abusers might be more likely to become addicted to methamphetamine.”  

The coordinator acknowledged, however, that people in an urban community will likely have better access to care for mental-health disorders.

“There will likely be a greater number of treatment options and a great number of specialized services in an urban setting,” she said. “Treatment options tend to be more generalized in smaller communities and more limited due to limited resources. Plus, there’s better access to transportation in urban settings so that people can actually make their way to see a provider.”

She added that, in Greensburg, she’s seen a collaborative attitude toward dealing with mental-health problems and a willingness to understand them unlike any she’s seen elsewhere.

“We do mental-health training for all the local law-enforcement officers here in Decatur County, so they can better respond to the community.” she said. “We also regularly work with Decatur County Memorial Hospital. When they see someone in their ER at risk for suicide or other mental-health issue, they call us.”

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011