KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — It is a health concern that is being talked about in schools, churches, sports, and in the workplace: mental health.
As the number of people diagnosed in Tennessee continues to grow, many are wondering how to find the appropriate healthcare. Below is advice from the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee (MHAET).
1. Complete a free screening
“There’s two major steps I would suggest for anybody,” CEO of MHAET Ben Harrington explained. “Number one, at mhaet.com, someone should log on and click on the screening tab and take a free mental health screening. The screening will help you determine ‘do I need to go?’.
2. Speak with someone diagnosed with mental health condition
“The second thing that someone can always do is call our call center,” Harrington said. “They’re going to get someone with lived experience on the phone. They’re able to talk to someone who can then help find a place for that person.”
937,000 adults in Tennessee have a mental health condition. In Knox County, 204,968 residents have mental health issues, according to the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee.National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
The conversation surrounding mental health is growing in Knox County. Recently, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ revealed plans to increase mental health resources in the county and to help local schools provide services for students.
That conversation is expected to continue Monday night during a joint workshop among city, county, and state government leaders. During the meeting, government officials will hear from various mental health experts including:
- Commissioner Marie Williams, Tenn. Depart. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- Jerry Vagnier, CEO of McNabb Center
- Liz Clary, Vice President of Covenant Health Behavioral Services
- Ben Harrington, CEO of Mental Health Association of East Tennessee
- Dr. Bruce Spangler, CEO of Volunteer Ministry Center
- Randy Nichols, Knox County Sheriff’s Department Special Counsel
- Tony Benton, CEO of Tennova Healthcare East Market
“This workshop helps us all be together at the same time, listen to the stakeholders in the community and hopefully address opportunities to work together in the future,” Knoxville City Council Vice Mayor Andrew Roberto told WATE.
Roberto said he hopes to continue building upon achievements that local and state leaders have already made.
“You’ve got the behavioral health emergency unit, which is a jail diversion,” Roberto said. “We’ve also just recently started up a mental health acute care center, which will be at the former surgery center at the St. Mary’s site.”
During Monday night’s meeting, leaders are expected to discuss a shortage in mental healthcare workers, a limitation in access for people of color to appropriate care, and funding for mental health services.
This story has been edited.