It has become a sign of the times.
As most of the country continues to pull out of the pandemic scare, the lingering effects of fear and uncertainty remain. Couple that with fires in the west or warmer than normal temperatures in the Midwest and south to every day personal issues, and it is no surprise that Americans are experiencing higher numbers of mental health disorders.
“The reality is,” said Dr. Carrie Cadwell, chief executive officer and president of Four County Counseling Center, “we’re not seeing anything slowing down. Because of the pandemic, nationally and locally, it has changed the landscape of mental health care.”
Since August 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an increase in adults with anxiety or depressive disorder, jumping from approximately 37% to 42%, with the largest increase among adults aged 18 to 29 years, the latest data states. Of those individuals, 11.7% were not receiving the mental health care needed.
And substance abuse has skyrocketed at such an unfathomable rate that the U.S. earmarked $35 billion toward its prevention budget in the last year alone, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.
Unfortunately, these spikes in mental health issues is a trend prevalent right out the local back door.
And after careful consideration, Cadwell said Four County has made the choice to expand its services so that people’s mental health care can be better met. Over the next several months, the 11 counties that the counseling center serves will see a new presence. In all, Four County will invest millions of dollars in infrastructure development. An exact amount could not be disclosed at this time, Cadwell said, adding that in addition to the business site improvements, employees will get wage and benefit perks while there will be a 30% increase in staffing.
First up will be Cass and Miami counties. The other nine – Carroll, Clinton, Fulton, Howard, Marshall, Pulaski, Tipton, Wabash, and White – will follow suit.
Cadwell said the pandemic has changed the scope of care. Many people are struggling with immediate, day-to-day issues that require a “new normal” form of treatment – the hybrid model. Clients can receive in-person care, but also take advantage of tele-services.
Addressing issues over the phone or via an online platform such as Skype has provided clients with a variety of options. That means the mental health care field needs to expand its style of aid, which is precisely what Four County will build upon over the next few months.
“We had been leasing space inside the Miami County Medical Center for several years, but our goal was to make an investment in that community,” Cadwell said. Two weeks ago, that happened.
Four County closed on the 1000 Broadway property along with the two adjacent lots, making expansion of their therapy services, medication clinic services, substance treatment services, and recovery services possible.
Cadwell said the center also will be looking at bringing in other services to the Miami County area. “We’re asking: are there other needs that we can fill?”
That’s a question the center has answered in Cass County.
Acquiring the 800 Fulton St. structure 8 years ago, Cadwell said the huge building has never been fully utilized. The change is happening now – clinical, psychiatric, and substance abuse services will be available at this site.
“It’s a great building; it’s huge,” she said. “We knew that a further expansion would be needed for our services. We’re expanding on our hiring, so we have the ability to meet the needs.”
Part of that need includes ensuring clients who need in-house treatment have a safe place to stay.
“We are caregivers for some people,” Cadwell said. “And we’re seeing people age. Our group homes are two-story buildings, which can be (challenging) for some people. We need to switch to one-story buildings.”
That’s why Four County is in the process of pursuing a site now. Cadwell will attend the next Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals meeting to ask for a special exception to move forward with the planned purchase at the local level. If granted, her next step would be seeking permission at the state level.
If approved, Four County will purchase the undisclosed site and begin to transform it into a dwelling where people will receive “advanced level of care,” said Cadwell, adding that “some people may question the need for group living environments. But I know we do need them, and there is an increased need. People are living longer with mental health conditions … families want to know their family member is able to age in a place where they have the support of caregivers in place.”
This new group home would provide all of those, she assured, hopeful that the process would not take more than six months.
Once this project is solidly set, Four County will begin searching for a second one-story location.
“We feel strongly about our investments,” said Cadwell. “Part of what we’re trying to say is that it’s important to move on, especially in rural areas because there’s often a lack of support in those areas. We are a rural mental health care specialist. So, we believe that we shouldn’t wait. Let’s make our investments now.”