Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola and Johnson County Mental Health Center Director Tim DeWeese are today, Wednesday, Oct. 7, issuing a joint statement on the importance of making mental health a priority as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve changed how we interact with people in ways that have emotional, mental and physical health impacts. Lives in our community have been disrupted by COVID-19. And we’re all going to have different reactions. We have to be thoughtful and understanding and have grace with one another. Mental health is a public health issue. We have people who have serious mental illness and children with severe mental disturbances. They have needs, and there is now a whole new host of people who are experiencing increased anxiety and depression because their lives have changed. We need to respond to our community in a way that validates their experiences. We have to distinguish between what’s disappointing us and what’s negatively impacting our mental health. There is no good physical health without mental wellness, and addressing mental health does no good if a person’s physical health is failing. These are not competing priorities. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment and Johnson County Mental Health Center will continue to work together to help our community get through this – ending the pandemic and promoting mental wellness simultaneously. We all have a responsibility to help each other by wearing masks, physical distancing and staying connected in new and different ways to support each other.
Hear much more from the directors, who recently participated in a recorded conversation about the work being done in Johnson County to promote mental health during this public health crisis. Listen to the full JoCo on the Go podcast episode, released today. You can also watch the recording as a webcast on YouTube. For even more conversation on mental health during the pandemic, listen to the JCMHC podcast It’s Okay if You’re Not Okay.
The directors are also available to speak to the media on this topic. Contact Lori Sand ([email protected] or 913-715-8572 or 816-377-6528) to arrange an interview.
Through the pandemic, JCMHC has taken a number of steps to continue to meet the needs of Johnson County residents living with a mental illness, including adults with a serious mental illness, children with a serious emotional disturbance, as well as those individuals with a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. At the same time, JCMHC is also responding to the community’s needs by helping those who are experience acute psychological distress as a result of not only the pandemic but social issues creating added stress for some. For those experiencing a mental health crisis or who have concerns about someone in need, please call JCMHC’s 24/7 crisis line at 913-268-0156.