In 2017, community leaders came together to create the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress (ASAP) in response to the opioid crisis and other substance abuse issues.
On Wednesday, local leaders gathered at The Commons to launch a new collaboration aimed at addressing another major crisis facing Bartholomew County residents: mental health.
“Our goal for Mental Health Matters, our community-wide mental health initiative, is to enhance the current system, thereby increasing its accessibility and ease of navigation,” said Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop. “By improving the overall mental health and wellbeing of our community, we will create a healthier, more resilient, connected community for all.”
Partners have launched a website about the initiative, mhmbc.org. The site includes statistics about mental health in Bartholomew County, resources for those in need, a link to sign up for community conversations around mental health, and a community survey.
According to the website, the three-year timeline for the initiative is as follows:
2023: Understand the current state and strategize potential solutions.
2024: Begin implementing strategies.
2025: Continue implementing strategies and work toward sustainability.
“This mental health initiative, as Jim alluded to, is a little bit like our ASAP initiative,” said Bartholomew County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop. “It’s not going to be solved or improved quickly, but we do hope to make some inroads and over time make some good improvements in the community.”
Building and practicing emotional intelligence requires hard work, said keynote speaker Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University.
“Life is difficult,” he said. “There’s no way around that. Life is difficult. Why don’t we put the effort into teaching people the skills we need to manage life?”
Organizers stated in a release that every partner involved in Mental Health Matters will be “devoting vital resources during the 3-year initiative period to understand our current situation locally, identify gaps and best practice solutions that can be adopted and sustained, and begin implementing some of those solutions.”
Read more about this story in Friday’s edition of The Republic.