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Mental health services available to residents

May 19, 2012
The Herald-Star

Odds are you probably know somebody who needs or receives treatment for mental health or drug or alcohol abuse issues.

About one-fifth of Jefferson County residents received such services last year.

Drug abuse, especially opiate abuse, is on the rise in Jefferson County. High unemployment has led to alcohol and drug abuse and mental health problems.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the county.

State funding for such services has been cut, leaving local agencies scrambling to fill the void with less dollars.

But the help is still out there.

Friends and family have to be on the lookout for the warning signs of mental health and drug and alcohol abuse issues. Talk is still the best medication. Try to convince a friend or family member to seek help if you suspect a mental health or drug and alcohol abuse problem.

Unfortunately, suicide or a drug overdose often ends a person's life too soon. The suicide or drug overdose could have been prevented if someone would have noticed the warning signs.

Children are among the rising number of people who need mental health services.

Jefferson Behavioral Health System has developed a central location in Mingo Junction to help children with mental health and behavior problems. The day treatment center, located in the former St. Agnes Catholic School, treats children with behavior problems, which can disrupt classes in their home schools. The children receive counseling and group therapy that help control their behavior problems so they can eventually return to their home schools.

Jefferson Behavior Health also does group counseling and individual counseling sessions for children with mental health problems.

The number of children receiving such services has increased in the past several years.

Jefferson Behavioral Health also provides services to help the homeless in the county, many of whom suffer from mental health or drug and alcohol abuse problems.

The Beacon House on North Sixth Street has 10 rooms for homeless people and offers a drop-in center that allows homeless people to come in off the street for a meal, a shower, to wash clothes and talk with caseworkers about access to mental health programs and job opportunities.

Family Services Association also provides counseling services to residents. The agency has a payee program that helps manage the financial assistance persons with mental health problems so the cash goes to help pay for rent, utilities and food.

The Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board had a budget of nearly $8 million that it distributes to the agencies that provide mental health and drug and alcohol abuse services. The county has lost $2 million in state funding in the past three years.

In the meantime, family and friends need to be aware that the services are still out there and urge those who may need treatment to seek help.

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