It’s no secret that we are in the middle of a mental health crisis. Off the top of my head, I can think of three people I know suffering from mental illness. A friend’s son suffers from schizophrenia. His family does everything they can to help and as long as he takes his medication, he is able to manage his life. The problem begins when he stops taking his medication, which is common with schizophrenia. Those with mental illness are part of our communities. When their family and friends have exhausted all options, at what point do we become accountable?
There are several organizations that provide mental health services, Chelan-Douglas Health District, Parkside and Catholic Family & Child Services, to name a few. But like many other places in the country, there is a disproportionate amount of services for the number of patients.
I recently had the opportunity to tour the jail where I learned that 70% of the inmates suffer from mental illness, meaning they do not belong in jail. Parkside is often full, as they only have 32 beds and Eastern State Hospital has a 4-6 week waiting list. There has to be a solution. I want to be a part of the solution. I am passionate about finding better funding opportunities and new methods to address the issues and make changes that will make a real difference.
After reviewing the 2019 Chelan County budget, the amount budgeted for mental health was seemingly small. I do not believe that throwing money at a problem will solve the issue. Rather, it can help provide much needed services to those suffering. I do not yet know how to solve the issue in Chelan County. What I do know is how important it is that we offer services to help take care of our families, friends and neighbors.
For mental health services, reach out to the following:
Chelan-Douglas County Health District - 509-886-6400
Columbia Valley Community Health - 509-884-9040
Parkside ABHS - 509-300-1221