Member News

DeKalb County Collaboration Addresses Mental Health

Friday, March 17, 2023

Community stakeholders from DeKalb County—including the Community Foundation of DeKalb County—gathered on March 3 at Kruse Education Center to collaborate and discuss the potential for a DeKalb County Mental Health Collaborative. This group included partners from local law enforcement, mental health service providers, medical health providers, cities/town/county government, and local non-profit leaders and stakeholders.

One of the most pressing public health concerns is mental illness, a condition that affects hundreds of millions of people globally. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. That means 4 in 4 people are significantly and profoundly impacted directly or indirectly.  With such serious ramifications for societies at large, communities must address the mental health needs of every individual for each society to survive and eventually thrive. 

Mental illness has significant implications for both the local and global economies. The costs associated with mental illness include direct healthcare expenses and indirect costs in terms of loss of productivity, absenteeism, and disability care. As a result, communities can no longer afford to ignore the enormous cost that not addressing mental illness has on the global economy.

In recent work completed on the county-wide strategic vision and Parkview DeKalb’s Community Health Needs Assessment, mental health services and accessibility surfaced as a priority by constituents across DeKalb County. The convening was an expansion of the local JRAC (Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council) work group. It included a group of key players across DeKalb County willing to discuss current opportunities to work and collaborate better for those in the community in a Mental Health Crisis. Mental health service providers presented the current and upcoming service offerings, including Benchmark Services, Bowen Health Center, Maple Heights, Parkview Behavioral Health & Park Center, and Northeastern Center.

The groups had a robust discussion and even contributed through group dialogue and conversations.  At the conclusion of the convening, the group decided to continue the meetings and conversations. “The importance of mental health is obvious by the participation and interest.  DeKalb County is blessed to have so many people that care about one another,” Tanya Young, executive director of the Community Foundation of DeKalb County, said.

The initiative was led by DeKalb County Commissioner Mike Watson and Taylor Yoder, community health improvement manager for Parkview DeKalb Hospital. Lunch was provided for all attendees by the Community Foundation of DeKalb County. This group plans to actively work together to make a change in DeKalb County based on goals set by the active collaborative members. For more information or to be involved, contact Taylor Yoder.

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