A group of more than 20 banded together Tuesday to discuss challenges facing Bryan County residents in need of mental and behavioral health services during a forum hosted by Bryan County Family Connection.
The group included local pastors and parents, Bryan County Sheriff Clyde Smith, United Way of Bryan County Director Kristi Cox, area counseling service organizations and others who addressed the lack of services and accessibility to quality mental health care in Bryan County.
Several parents who have children in need of mental and behavioral health services shared their challenges in finding easily accessible care, while other attendees noted the difficulty for low-income and uninsured people to also find care.
Susan Harrell, a representative with the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, helped facilitate the discussion. She added the purpose of the forum was not to solve the entire issue, but to simply “start the conversation.”
“We are not going to get it solved, and I don’t have any answers,” she said. “The answers that we have are (you) sitting here and I just so appreciate those of you that have shared your experiences.”
The evening included group work in identifying what mental health services are available to residents in Bryan County and how accessible they are; a lack of transportation to other counties for services; transitioning back into life after receiving mental or behavioral health services; and the stigma of needing such services.
Community education and awareness, creating a centralized database of available services and recruiting volunteers were some of the “next steps” identified by the group. Involving local churches in the conversation was also suggested.
Read more in the May 4 edition of the News.