Mental Health &
Substance Abuse

For the first time since Healthy Communities began conducting Community Health Needs Assessments in 1996, Mental Health and Substance Abuse rose to the top of the list of unmet needs in our 2015 survey. For this reason, the Healthy Communities Council decided to provide a home and support to a community group that had been meeting on these issues for a couple of years.

The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Team officially came under the Healthy Communities umbrella in late 2015 and received funding to support a part-time staff member from the Columbus Regional Hospital Foundation in early 2016. Co-chairs Dr. Sherm Franz, Ray Morris, Shirley Arney and Larry Perkinson with support from staff member Nichole Vreeland, provide leadership to the team.

The Team’s goals are focused on:

  • Changing the conversation about mental illness and addiction in order to decrease the stigma that so often keeps people from seeking help.
  • With a suicide rate that surpasses state and national averages, a goal of zero suicide has been adopted. To that end, the team is working with various provider offices to routinely screen for depression and suicide risk.
  • A need for additional treatment resources, especially for addiction treatment, has also been identified as a very high priority and will be a key focus in 2017 when we host an April 19th community forum at The Commons with Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland, and Dr. Kendall Stewart, psychiatrist. The presentation that evening will address the opioid epidemic that has been experienced in most of the United States, including our part of Indiana.