Community needs more resources to fight mental illness

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2018

I read with great interest the article on the fourth annual Walk/Remembrance that took place on  Sept. 8. 

I was especially interested in the comments by Elizabeth Nager, CEO of the Polk County Community Foundation: “We recognize that mental health is a serious issue in our community, so we are activitely exploring ways to play a role in the solution.” 

As a consumer of mental health services, I know of a critical need that requires further exploration — we need out-patient, psychiatric care in Polk County.  We have some excellent psychologists who provide counseling, but often times, medication or other treatments are required.

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Many doctors in Asheville/Greenville don’t accept Medicare/Medicaid, don’t offer a sliding scale, require a referral or have a waiting list for new patients.  Over the last six years of battling major, treatment-resistant depression, my husband has driven me to Asheville more than 250 times. 

What about our neighbors who can’t drive themselves or have someone to drive them? 

My longtime doctor recently retired.  To see my new doctor in Asheville, I must be there at 8:30 a.m. for a five-minute appointment.

Frustrated by this situation, I discovered Blue Ridge Health located in the Columbus Commons Shopping Center. They have a psychiatrist in the office one day a week. 

Is that really enough?

If the community foundation is serious about helping, perhaps they can consider a way to partner with other health care providers to bring another psychiatrist to our community.   

Awareness, too, is so important.  In today’s world, where almost every human condition is “out of the closet,” mental illness still carries a harsh stigma.

Dr. Kathryn Butler writes in Christianity Today, “In the eyes of many, depression signifies cowardice, faithlessness or a bad attitude.  People want to avoid the sufferer and often blame him for being too lax in faith to pull themselves from the depths.”

As those who organized the Walk/Remembrance know, it can rob sufferers of their very lives.

I pray new resources can be found for our wonderful community.

Susan S. Speight, Columbus