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March 12, 2013

Better Health forms new task force

Mental health task force to work on children’s issues

Better Health of Cass County has formed a new task force to keep up with a growing need for mental health services.

Joining the four task forces of the group, the mental health task force will focus first on childhood mental health and the environmental factors that can lead to health issues as they age. C.J. Davis, CEO of Four County, will head up the task force.

Mike Meagher, executive directive of Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services, said the board has been discussing a mental health task force since the beginning, and it voted to approve the new task force in November.

“There was a need felt by the Better Health board,” Meagher said.

The need, Davis said, comes as area children are growing up with problems in their home environment, like drug abuse.

“We have a tremendous number of families and children that grow up in less than ideal home circumstances,” Davis said.

These environmental factors can lead to mental health or other health conditions later on, Davis said.

“We see it every day at Four County,” Davis said.

Davis said he hopes to lead the task force on to educating area families about these problems.

“The big thing for us right now is finding a way to educate people on some really important pieces of research that are coming out,” Davis said.

Though the task force is still in the process of gaining members, Davis said he’s working with members to write a grant to try to educate families at primary care level.

That would amount to having an annual family check up at a pediatrician’s office with the Four County Employee on the family status.

Though the task force may later expand to address other mental health issues, Davis said they’ll focus primarily on children for now.

“The prevalence of mental health among children seems to be growing,” Davis said.

In the future, Meagher also said the coalition may add other task forces if the need arises.

“I could see us getting up to 10 in the future,” Meagher said.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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