Barriers to mental health care for adults who may pose danger still pervade

Posted at 7:30 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 12:35:34-05

Mental health resources for adults in the United States have come a long way in recent history. But what happens when issues existing in the system cause critical obstacles to getting adults the mental health they need?

Most people living with mental health issues never become violent. But for those who may be a risk to themselves and others, resources for family members seeking to help can be more difficult to secure.

In February, a Taylor Mill man allegedly broke into a home in Richmond, Ky. and killed Kentucky attorney Jordan Morgan. While police searched for him, Shannon Gilday's mother issued a statement, writing her son had "not been of sound mind the last couple weeks."

"If public policy is not imperiously strengthened and enhanced, when it comes to mental health in Kentucky and the nation, the repercussion can be very severe," National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Kentucky Lobbyist T.J. Litafik said.

Litafik said America has a long way to go, but Kentucky has taken a step toward better helping those with severe mental illness.

"We have what's called Tim's law and it's a process that begins with a petition that's filed in district court," Litafik said. "The petition has to make the case that an individual with serious mental illness will without a treatment present a great danger to themselves or others. And that they set up and that they suffer from mental, emotional or physical harm and that third judgment reasoning or functioning or capacity to recognize reality is severely impaired or diminished, and that they basic

But if harm is imminent, Rich Palmer with Mental Health America said loved ones should skip the court process and call police.

"There needs to be an intervention and it, and it's an emergency circumstance under, you know, under that pretense," Palmer said.

Mental Health America serves Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky and offer resources like mental health first aid. People can take a free class to understand how to help someone in a crisis until a professional can step in.

"When you start to see certain behaviors that are long-term and they're not resolving, and this person can't seem to get through that, that's a time to probably reach out to resources," Palmer said.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 1 in 5 Americans live with mental illness. And 1/5 of them have serious enough challenges to interfere with life activities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited research stating between 3 and 5% of violent crimes are attributed to people with serious mental illness. Palmer says we can best deal with these issues in the beginning stages by listening.

"We don't force the person to talk about something they're uncomfortable talking about. But we open the door and we let them share when it's comfortable and we build trust," Palmer said.

Ohio State University's Center for Public Health Practice put together an extensive database of mental health resources highlighting every Ohio county.

You can find more information on NAMI resources here.