New Community Outreach to Focus on Mental Wellness Issues

Collaborative committee to focus on ongoing healthcare crisis in mental illness

About one in five, or 61 million Americans will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. That’s more than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined. That means of the approximately 45,000 people who live in Anderson Township, about 9,000 could suffer from a mental illness during their lifetime.

Anderson Township government leaders and volunteers, along with other community partners, are working to increase awareness of the ongoing healthcare crisis in mental illness.

“Eliminating stigma and increasing awareness is critical to changing the current trajectory of this crisis,” said Anderson Township Trustee President Josh Gerth. “Anderson Township leadership is stepping up to the challenge.”

Representatives from Anderson Township, Mercy Health, the Forest Hills School District, the Anderson Park District, the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce, the Forest Hills Foundation for Education, and the Lindner Center of HOPE are initiating plans this year to help create a supportive environment around mental wellness in the community. “The goal is high, not only to improve Anderson’s mental health statistics but to rise as a leader in Greater Cincinnati, providing the prototype for other communities to emulate,” Gerth said.

The stigma of mental illness causes problems in seeking solutions, noted Dr. Susan McElroy, chief research officer, Lindner Center of HOPE. “There is a myth that mental illnesses are not ‘real,’ but rather character flaws or poor choices. However, growing research indicates that most mental illnesses are brain-based illnesses that also involve physical or bodily abnormalities.”

Vicky Earhart, township administrator, said she was encouraged that dialogue has begun to “bring groups together to help our community address and work with mental health issues.” Additionally, Earhart noted that health care providers are working to expand mental health services. Mercy Health, for example, recently opened a senior behavioral health unit at its Clermont Hospital serving the east market.

“As part of this collaborative effort, the group is planning a speaker’s series on various mental health issues. I hope everyone can attend and take advantage of this opportunity,” said Trustee Vice President Dee Stone. “We also encourage people to get with friends and start walking groups and walk with a goal. These groups can promote physical health as well as connectedness,” she said.

“Mental health is important to me and the leadership of Anderson. We need, as a community, to recognize this and support each other,” Gerth said. “It’s something that impacts everyone to some level, but I believe that if we all can come together as a community, we can start to make a difference,” he noted.

Collaborative plans are in initial stages. To learn more, check out future issues of Anderson Insights and AndersonTownship.org.

For more information contact Vicky Earhart at 688-8400 ext. 1104 or vearhart@AndersonTownship.org.

Originally published in the Anderson Township Parks District guide for Spring of 2019

Special thanks to:

Mike Glen, Vice President Business Development for the Lindner Center of HOPE

Josh Gerth, Dee Stone, Vicky Earhart, Elizabeth Barber, Tom Turchiano, Eric Miller, Matt Robinson

Nikki Zellen, Tom Gormley, and Emily Scharfenberger from Beech Acres

Dr. Steve Feagins and Dr. Nav Kang from Mercy Hospitals

and Bill Lyon with the Ed Foundation