Health survey a boost to meeting residents’ needs

When Johnson County residents struggle with addiction, depression or other deep emotional issues, finding the right behavioral health care can be difficult. But there is hope.

Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County is working to improve how local residents identify behavioral health problems and receive the care they need. Working with the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University, the organization wants to determine gaps in existing care.

A clearer picture of the scope of behavioral health treatment will allow health workers to put together programs and solutions where they’re needed most.

“We’ve known for a long time that access to behavioral health care is a huge gap,” said Jane Blessing, executive director for Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County. “There are a lot of different areas to make improvements. We’ve got to figure this out overall.”

Behavioral health is a broad term for any kind of mental and emotional well-being. Common behavioral health problems are anxiety, depression, substance abuse and mental illness. Improving access to behavioral health care is a top priority for the partnership’s Access to Care team this year. The organization already focuses on signing up more people for the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan health care program.

Since the state health insurance program has expanded to include more people and offers coverage for behavioral health issues, the goals fit perfectly together, Blessing said.

“For the first time ever, there are going to be thousands of Johnson County residents who have access to behavioral health care,” she said.

More than a dozen county agencies and organizations are working with Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County to treat behavioral health problems. Another 25 support groups are available to treat behavioral health issues.

The challenge is working with each of those entities to figure out what needs aren’t being met, said Michelle McMahon, coordinator for Communities that Care Johnson County, an agency focusing on alcohol, drugs and tobacco prevention in youth.

Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County has teamed up with Communities that Care Johnson County to conduct the survey. Communities that Care received a grant from the Indiana Prevention Resource Center to develop the survey.

Survey questions ask for basic information, such as sex, age range, race and role in the community. People are asked to rank the importance of behavioral health issues, from anxiety to family conflict to sexual orientation and gender identity supports. Sections allow them to write in what they feel the biggest contributors to crime and substance abuse are.

This is a significant step forward. It will help local folks find help to identify and treat emotional and behavioral issues. By assessing local needs, resources can be allocated more effectively.

We commend Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County on this latest initiative.

At issue

Finding effective help for emotional or behavioral issues can be bewildering.

Our point

An initiative by Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County could help people find effective treatment.

At a glance