Mental Health awareness and education continue to be the focus of the Bradley County Health Council.
The council discussed ways to get information about services to those in the community who need help but do not know where to go.
Many do not know the early warning signs of mental health problems, so they do not know when they or their children might need help.
“Our primary goal is that we want to educate the public,” said Joyce Clem of Southeast Region Tennessee Department of Health.
Ann Marie Brewer of SkyRidge Medical Center suggested the council contact a college public relations class to see if it might be able to help develop an awareness campaign.
Clem said she would like the council to have a website providing information about mental health, and who to contact for services.
Clem said she would like to partner in managing the campaign with local students who need community service hours.
Some council members worried this could lead to inconsistency on the website.
“One of the challenges we have in the field is just the absolute stigma of even reaching out,” said Red McCormick of Centerstone, a mental health and addiction services organization that provides service to Tennessee and Indiana residents.
“Most of the time when people try self-diagnosis, they diagnose just horribly wrong. ... If they just have a question, right there should be the trigger to ask.”
McCormick said lists of famous people who battled mental illness have helped remove some of that stigma. Yet, it still exists.
Cost and transportation can be challenges to people seeking help.
McCormick said he has found a single piece of paper with basic information has been helpful in getting people pointed in the right direction.
He said many who are unsure how to find resources do not have Internet access or a smartphone.
The council discussed developing a flier-style resource listing mental health agencies in the area.
McCormick said the list should focus on licensed Cleveland services that accept TennCare.
It was discussed that such a list would be a good asset for school resource officers to have.
Brewer said she would like someone in the field to be available to provide guidance to a college group if one chose to do a marketing campaign.
Brewer said she would look into partnering with a Lee University public relations class.
Also during the meeting, the council reviewed its proposed plan for grant funding to reduce tobacco use. Specifically the council wants to reduce the number of pregnant women who smoke, reduce secondhand smoke to young children and provide tobacco use prevention education in elementary and middle schools.