Polk committee raises awareness for mental health issues, connects community with resources

Published 1:32 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2022

COLUMBUS– Polk County Mental Health Advisory Committee is launching its second annual mass media campaign to connect with community members, and their families, who are coping with mental health needs in the community. During the months of December 2022 and January 2023, partner organizations will be marketing available services in Polk County.  This effort is also designed to help promote discussions in the community about mental health support.


“Innovative strategies like this media campaign increase the visibility of local mental health resources, which is key to starting conversations that connect people to the care they need,” said Angie Garner, Community Relations Regional Director of Vaya. “As an organization that oversees publicly funded behavioral health and intellectual/developmental disability services, we are proud to support the efforts of the Polk County Mental Health Advisory Committee.”

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Polk County Health and Wellness Coalition and community members have identified mental health as a focus area for the next three years as part of the Polk County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The mental health stats listed in Polk County’s recent Community Health Assessment (CHA) were ranked in the top tier of leading indicators for negative health outcomes. Numerous organizations in Polk County meet and collaborate as part of the Polk County Mental Health Advisory Committee to discuss mental health needs and solutions to improve access to services, awareness of services, and improve the well-being of those who live in, work in, and visit Polk County.


“One of the unique benefits of Polk County is the community’s commitment to finding solutions to help our neighbors. There are services available for those in crisis through RHA’s Mobile Crisis Services and Blue Ridge Health,” said Joshua Kennedy, Director of Polk County Health and Human Services Agency.  “Our efforts over the next few weeks will be to help advertise these crisis providers but also non-crisis providers that are available in Polk County but also remind all that it is okay to talk about our mental health needs and concerns. Feeling depressed, sad, or anxious should not be a stigma and folks should feel supported to seek help for themselves or others.”


In addition to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (9-8-8) that is available 24/7, the following mental health crisis services are available in Polk County:


  • RHA Mobile Crisis: Mobile Crisis services provide intensive, on-site response, stabilization, and intervention for people of all ages who are experiencing a crisis due to mental health disturbances, developmental disabilities, or addiction. The 24-hour hotline is 1-888-573-1006.


  • Vaya Health Behavioral Health Crisis Line: 1-800-849-6127, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, to all residents of Vaya’s region. Residents can call for help with a mental health or substance use crisis.


  • Blue Ridge Health Walk-in Crisis Center: open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The center is located at 161 Walker St, Columbus, and can be reached at (828) 894-2222


Submitted by Joshua Kennedy