Posted: May 08, 2018 6:01 PM CDT Updated: May 22, 2018 6:01 PM CDT By Amelia Mugavero, KTEN News
SHERMAN, Texas — More than 40 million Americans have a mental health condition. That a reality Grayson County is tackling head-on.
“We need to reduce the stigma for mental health issues, and help find places where people can get access to care more easily and more affordable,” said Sherman City Council member Shawn Teamann.
So local leaders have formed the Texoma Behavioral Health Leadership Team to help spearhead the movement in advancing mental health programs.
“That gets local buy-in from elected officials to police chiefs and state officials… altogether to make this a better place to live for people who have mental health issues in their lives,” Teamann said.
Gail Utter is one of the founders of this team. She said they are focused on three main concerns with mental health: Stigma, jail diversion, and access to care.
“Really just trying to make sure that we are discussing how to provide mental health services in this community,” she said.
Denison and Sherman are the first cities to make formal proclamations at their Council meetings this week, voicing their intent to raise awareness.
“We’re just excited about the movement that’s going on and in our county… and not just in Denison, not just in Sherman, but county-wide,” Said Denison City Council member Kris Spiegel. “It’s really a statewide issue.”
TBHLT is now in the process of raising money to do an assessment of the community to see what mental health in this area truly looks like, and to spread its Okay to Say initiative.
“It’s Okay to Say. It’s okay to tell people when you’re having a mental health issue, just like its okay to tell a physician when you have the flu or you’re sick,” Teamann explained.
Other cities and counties plan to join the Texas Behavioral Health Leadership team.
Joe Padilla speaks during the sixth-annual Community Behavioral Health Conference in Denson. The event brought together more than 30 community organizations and guest speakers to discuss the mental health service needs across Texoma. MICHAEL HUTCHINS/HERALD DEMOCRAT