The Republic County Resource Council recently started a Mental Health Coalition. Their goal is to bring awareness to mental health and end the stigma behind it. Karla Awalt, the coalition’s treasurer, explained there is a lot of data showing mental health struggles are at an all time high since the pandemic. They want to make sure they reach all demographics.
Many people struggled during the pandemic, from health care workers experiencing burn out, to children who received little social contact at an impressionable time in their life. The elderly community was very affected. “The elderly community is still suffering greatly, there are many here in the county who no longer leave their homes for fear of catching the virus and getting terminally ill,” Awalt shared. She said the senior center’s attendance has decreased greatly since the pandemic and numbers still aren’t going up. Meals on Wheels deliveries are at an all-time high. The senior center director told Awalt it is discouraging to see so many seniors living in solitude, especially with how much it is affecting their mental health.
It isn’t just the pandemic that has caused the community to struggle. The area of Republic County has also been hit hard with drought. “People don’t talk enough about the struggles that the farming community faces, not just financially and physically, but mentally as well,” Awalt commented. With farming comes many unknowns, especially with the weather. The coalition wants to make sure farmers know what resources are available to them. “Pawnee Mental Health offers a farming AAP program, it’s confidential and can be done via zoom through the privacy of your own home, equipment, vehicle, etc.” This is something on the coalition’s agenda as well.
The local hospital, the Republic County Hospital, conducts a community health needs assessment every three years. It has repeatedly shown mental health as the number one issue faced by residents in the community. Resources surrounding mental health have been critically low, which is where the Republic County Mental Health Coalition hopes to step in. They want to change this and help community members get the resources and help they need.