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County hears mental health concerns

PRINCETON — Bureau County Board member Loretta Volker spoke briefly about her concerns on mental health care last week at the county board meeting.

There have been ongoing local meetings, where various community members from different backgrounds have been invited, to discuss the lack of mental health services in the area and seek ways on how it can be improved.

Volker pointed out how Bureau County is highly ranked when it comes to the number of children diagnosed with mental health issues like Bipolar, ADHD or other disruptive disorders, anxiety, depression, Schizophrenia and more.

“The federal government doesn’t fund it. Sometimes private insurances don’t fund it; and people can’t afford it; and we don’t have enough people to provide (the help),” she said. “There’s where we are at.”

Volker talked about local representatives visiting hospitals around the state and completing studies on the need for mental health services.

“We have heard of many instances of people in situations where emergency care has been needed to protect the person with mental illness or their family members of their health and safety,” she said.

Volker mentioned the stories told about those who have gone to the emergency rooms of local hospitals and have been evaluated for immediate need of hospitalization and secure mental health care and are forced to wait for a hospital bed for up to 36 hours.

“Folks, that’s really intolerable,” she said.

According to Volker, there are also fewer psychiatrists out there, which causes a problem as they are the people who can prescribe psychotropic medications for people in need.

“The difference among juvenile rates has improved 60 percent if they are given medication plus counseling,” she said.

Volker said since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been 74 more shootings, and it can’t be ignored.

Currently, Volker is working with two physicians who have put together a wellness model, that could help provide some relief of the ongoing mental health issues.

The plans are still in progress to provide a facility that could exercise the wellness model, but Volker will continue working with the physicians and update the county board on further progress.

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