Connections are important
By Barbara A Mahaffey
Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center
The most important factor in gaining mental health and learning how to navigate the many barriers to activities of daily living is being able to connect with others. This can be accomplished by calling the various phones in the Crisis Center that has trained professional staff ready to answer 24 hours and every day of the year.
Not all the people who live in Ross, Pike, Pickaway, Fayette and Highland counties in Ohio do not know that the Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center has continuously worked since 1977 to provide that service that has been free for any person who has called one of its various phone numbers. I hope that anyone who reads this article will spread the word as the amount of emotional pain and suffering in our communities is more widespread than the common cold or COVID infections.
Situational trauma, depression and anxiety symptoms, anger, job losses, psychosis, many of inherited mental health disorders, and even suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone. Although prevention is important so is having the ability to connect, call, or come in to talk to someone who really cares is what is known in the mental health realm as a possible curative factor – a way that people can begin to heal and gain emotional wellness. Learning ways to solve problems in more productive ways and being helped to gain knowledge about resolving problem are just two of the many ways that the professionals and people who work at a community mental health center can create human connections.
During the pandemic, community mental health centers in rural areas worked to provide as much mental health care for thousands of people in the five-county area located in south central Ohio. The Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center (SPVMHC) has been continuously operating since the fall of 1965 and kept its doors open to help people who were most at-risk for mental and emotional health issues. Soon, I will be writing about how its employees did so without “One Penny More of local funding.” This information is quite interesting to explore.
SPVMHC leadership has increased the number of clinical mental health professionals over the past five years. It is also noted that not all people who seek connections with mental health professionals are helped. Not everyone who breaks bones have them seamlessly healed and the same is true about the brain. People who experience grief and loss, for example, cannot always recover from some experiences. Mental health professionals seek to at least connect people who have many diversities and challenges to gain hope and relief from some symptoms.
The SPVMHC professional clinical staff have worked over 44,000 hours just in the past year, the phones in only the Crisis Center have been answered over 17,000 times, over 7,000 people have been evaluated and assessed for mental health risks, and there exists countless people with some type of mental health disorder who are assisted in three residential facilities and six outpatient counseling centers. Employees have risked being unsafe at times to be present to help people with a wide range of issues – many people who need assistance with activities of daily living, help with medications, to a variety of one-time contacts for people who benefitted from connecting to life with the help of reassurances that the future could again be a better place to live.
September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness month. I hope that readers can spread the word and support the many ways that several agencies, and especially SPVMHC, employs people who work and have worked without ever receiving a cost-of-living (COLA) raise and many times recognition of the variety of services that are offered. For now, the SPVMHC mission is to offer quality services to people who connect with them and to work toward helping people to gain a higher level of functioning in life. The main call line for the Crisis Center is (740) 773-4357. SPVMHC also answers the 988 call line and the Careline number for 8 counties. The staff wants to encourage everyone who sees another person who is struggling to connect with people and especially to know that help may be accessed in a phone call.