News Article Details

Mental Health Month

Newton Daily News - 4/30/2019

April 30-- Apr. 30--A recent proclamation by the Jasper County Board of Supervisors says it is the responsibility of "each business, school, government agency, healthcare provider, organization and citizen" to promote mental health during the month of May.

Mental Health Month begins Wednesday and will be recognized the following 31 days by several mental health advocates in Jasper County, including Central Iowa Community Services (CICS) CEO Jody Eaton, who presented the proclamation before the board of supervisors April 23. Mental health, she said, is important for everyone to think about.

"Prevention, education and then also learning about, specifically, what the community can do to help with the situation," Eaton said. "We want to help people understand mental illness and know it's not something to be feared."

According to the proclamation, mental health is essential to overall health and well-being; illnesses "are real and prevalent in our nation" and are more common than people think. Furthermore, those experiencing mental illness or times of difficulty "should feel comfortable in seeking help and support."

CICS supports communities by serving individuals with mental health, intellectual and other developmental disabilities, an ambition and mission shared among the many providers in the county. In addition to Jasper County, CICS helps those who live in the counties of Boone, Greene, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Madison, Marshall, Poweshiek, Story and Warren.

Local providers are seeing more activity. Optimae LifeServices in Newton, which Eaton said specializes in community-based services through supported community living, has increased its presence in town, prompting the organization to expand its building to better accommodate staff.

Eaton said she had recently spoke with Julie Smith, center director of Capstone Behavioral Healthcare in Newton, and found out there had been a significant increase in the amount of individuals the organization has been able to serve for the past few years. More than 4,000 people, she added, are now receiving assistance from Capstone, up from less than 1,000 or so.

"So they've been able to increase staff and stuff like that," Eaton said. "I don't think anybody understands that we are blessed with providers in Jasper County, which we don't see in every other county that I work with. There are a lot of providers and they all work well together."

Combating public perceptions of mental health is an ongoing battle for Eaton and providers across the county. Reducing stigmas through continued education, she said, is one such solution.

Ridding that stigma entirely is important for both advocates and those seeking mental health services. Misconceptions and negative connotations are common and usually without merit, oftentimes leading to people refusing to pursue treatment.

Incorporating mental health services into primary care providers, Eaton added, could also help with early identification and patient awareness to mental health.

"Mental health isn't treated in the same manner as a physical illness even though it is, and so I think that's part of it," Eaton said. "Mental health is important for everyone to think about."

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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(c)2019 the Newton Daily News (Newton, Iowa)

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