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Front Page » March 4, 2008 » Local News » A Look at Mental Health in the County
Published 2,454 days ago

A Look at Mental Health in the County


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor


Four Corners Behavioral Health director, Jan Bodily introduces her staff at the public hearing.

The Four Corners Behavioral Health is required by law to have a public hearing each year to evaluate services in Emery County. The public hearing is held in conjunction with the county commission meeting.

Commissioner Gary Kofford is the commissioner assigned to Four Corners for the county and is part of the board of directors. Jan Bodily is the director of Four Corners and Glen Johnson is the chairman of the board.

The hearing was opened up to public comments. One citizen said he lost his wife last year to mental health related issues. He thinks the state of Utah could go a long way in helping those with mental health problems. With physical health it seems he stated there is more help. In light of the school and university shootings, some serious attention needs to be given to mental health issues and problems. The state needs to do more to help people who can't afford help, he stated.

Emery County Sheriff LaMar Guymon spoke next, he thanked Jennifer Thomas and her staff for their help to the sheriff's office. They are very supportive of drug court. Sheriff Guymon says his one complaint is trying to get after hours care. The sheriff's office responds to cases with mental health patients at all hours and picks them up, but then the question is what do they do with them. The jail isn't the best place for these people.

Sheriff Guymon said it often takes 15 phone calls to finally get a hold of some guy from Price who says there's nothing they can do. "They need to get out of our facility where they can get some help. If they're drunk then nobody wants to take them until they are sober. They might be drunk, but they still have mental health issues. Many of our mental health problems come off of I-70 and are not from our area," said Sheriff Guymon. He asked for help on these after hour problems.

Commissioner Kofford said one major problem for Four Corners is funding. There aren't adequate funds to take care of all the needs. At one time, Medicaid monies could be used for help in the private sector, but that money went away. There isn't much money available to treat the public. There are a lot of holes in the system, if a patient doesn't fit in one particular slot, they can't get help.

Kofford said one wish list item he has would be adequate funding to work with those in the jail. The county jail doesn't have the resources or the training to get counseling for those in jail.

There is also no help for people without insurance. Kofford said he would like to look at ways to address those issues. The legislature is working on health insurance this session.

Kofford said this January began Bodily's second year with Four Corners and she has a relatively new staff as well. Kofford encouraged Four Corners to take a look at Sheriff Guymon's concerns.

Another citizen spoke saying that the Peer Helpers program is a part of Four Corners for drug prevention and she wondered if this program could be expanded to educate the youth on mental health issues as well. She said people need to be better educated on mental health. Some people view those people with mental health issues as being, "nuts," but this is inaccurate and an education program needs to take place to help the average person understand mental health issues better.

Glen Johnson, chairman, thanked the county commission for their help. "Four Corners would struggle without your support. If you look at Trolley Square, Virginia Tech, Illinois, and the Crandall Canyon mine. Every time something happens we are educated a little bit. Jan is really on top of things and she has a great staff. Citizens do not understand mental health. These problems used to be ignored, but they need to be addressed.

We also have a challenge with Castleview Hospital and how they handle mental health cases and drug overdoses. It has not been handled well. We have a doctor on the board of directors now and we hope to help them to understand behavioral health more.

Another citizen thanked Four Corners for their help with his son. He said without them his son would probably be in jail by now. His son is mentally ill, bipolar with grandiose. The prisons are full of mentally ill people who shouldn't be there he said.

Sheriff Guymon said they deal with the mentally ill on almost a daily basis and there is little the sheriff's office can do to help these people. He thinks it boils down to money. Four Corners doesn't have the resources they need to take care of everyone.

Sheriff Guymon said the sheriff's office does the best they can, but these patients don't need to be in jail. They need medicine and a diagnosis. Often times the deputies have taken someone in to be evaluated at the hospital and they have waited for hours for a 15 minute evaluation.

The hospital doesn't receive funding for dealing with these types of patients. It's not clear where the funding needs to come from but it is clear that these patients are falling through the cracks and not getting the help they need. Untreated mental patients pose a threat not only to themselves, but to others.



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