Mental health services offered in the Heartland

Mental health services offered in the Heartland
A mother and her daughter walk into the Community Counseling Center Friday.
Suicide rates rose across the U.S. from 1999 to 2016. (Source: CDC)
Suicide rates rose across the U.S. from 1999 to 2016. (Source: CDC)

(KFVS) - This week, two high-profile celebrities, chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade, have taken their own lives.

That's reportedly led to an uptick in calls to suicide prevention hotlines, but local counselors say access to mental health programs and services in the Heartland is also essential.

According to new statistics from the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates have been steadily climbing in most states from 1999 to 2016. Missouri is up 36.4% percent, Illinois 22.8%, Kentucky 36.6%, Arkansas 36.8% and Tennessee 24.2%. since 1999.

Victoria Dormeyer, the director of outpatient and emergency services at Community Counseling Center, believes there is always room to grow local mental health programs and said the federal and state government has increased spending in certain areas and have cut funding in others.

"In just my eight years here we have grown tremendously with the various programs and services we provide to individuals," Dormeyer said. "However on the inpatient side there has been an increasing number in psychiatric units that have been closed, so that decreases the amount of bed spaces that we have access to provide to clients when that is an intervention that they need."

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Debra Walker, the acting deputy director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, said a state facility in Farmington that has 168 of the beds is at full capacity.

"The majority of our beds are designated for forensic patients who come to us through the courts," Walker said.

Dormeyer said there is often a limited number of bed spaces at Missouri hospitals with inpatient services and finding openings can be a daily struggle.

"Some hospital processes can take hours," Dormeyer said. "We've had some cases where we've worked on twelve plus hours trying to get someone coordinated to a psychiatric hospital."

But there are ongoing efforts to expand inpatient services in the region.

Southeast Health will be opening a new $30 million mental health facility to Cape Girardeau, and Dormeyer said it will be an amazing resource.

"We will definitely have more access, right within our own community," she said. "That coordination, collaboration and partnership is definitely going to be so beneficial to streamline folks into getting the help they need instead of having to wait around to try and find bed space."

Dormeyer believes the need to improve access to mental health services will only go up as they combat the stigma against reaching out for help.

"The engagement piece into mental health services is so important because it's really difficult for somebody to walk through these doors," Dormeyer said. "Its okay to struggle and it's okay to ask for help and we are here to help you. Mental illness doesn't discriminate. Mental illness can impact anyone, regardless of your socioeconomic status, or your race, your religion, your sexual orientation."

Southeast Health is also opening a behavioral health unit in Dexter on June 12th, and the new psychiatric hospital in Cape Girardeau will likely start being built this Fall.

Both Dormeyer and Walker recommend calling the 24-7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for emotional support and to find resources in your area at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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