State of SOKY Mental Health

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Several mental health specialists in our area told us about the state of our country when it comes to treating and diagnosing mental disorders.

"Kentucky is one of the states with the highest number of deaths in schools due to school violence." said WKU Professor, Dr. Bill Pfohl.

The recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut may never leave the minds of some. Each shooter in each case dealt with mental illness before allegedly carrying out their crimes. Quick fixes are rare in cases of mental illness though physicians say it's often what patients are looking for.

"Mental illness doesn't go away. Just because someone has been treated once, doesn't mean they will have more occurrences but it often times does mean that we'll have occurrences down the line." said Rivendell Behavioral Health Services CEO, Janice Richardson.

There are plenty of area facilities and specialists that are very passionate about helping those who are suffering along with trying to prevent a tragedy in South Central Kentucky on any level.

"We see kids here who are victims of abuse, who have been neglected, so they're coping skills are poorly developed. A situation that is high pressure or bullying, they're coping skills aren't good. They haven't been taught how to handle stressful situations. They're initial instinct is to react poorly." added Richardson.

Now the effects of mental illness aren't just something you can detect at a young age. A lot of times traumatic events can cause mental illness in adults. As a matter of fact we have a lot of troops who are coming back from overseas right now, who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That disorder can often lead to thoughts of suicide. That's why groups like Lifeskills are there to help.

"Suicide is one of the most preventable results of a mental illness that's out there. When we identify an individual that's suicidal, there are very exceptional treatment programs that can be implemented and can help those individuals resolve those issues." said Dr. John Sivley of Lifeskills.

Though there are plenty of outlets for help, budget cuts are closing those avenues for many due to high insurance deductibles.

"People with low income and middle income are the groups having the most difficulty finding the access to mental health services. I have one client who had a $25,000 deductible for mental health services." added Dr. Pfohl.

State funds are an issue as well. Mental health spending is well below the national average. While some may argue more money needs to be provided for mental health issues, there is no argument more attention must be focused on mental illness.

"The real message here is that early intervention, actually allowing people to come and seek services early will prevent a lot of the larger problems." stated Dr. Pfohl.

To learn more about some of the mental health services listed in the story, click on the links below.

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