The department offers counselling, therapy and in some cases can provide medication
WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Mental health is a recurring topic throughout central Georgia among law enforcement and at the Georgia General Assembly — so much so that the Houston County Health Department is offering treatment free or low-cost mental health services for ages 18 and older.
“I think we’re still scared to have these conversations and I think we still stigmatize mental health as ‘you’re crazy’ and I think that’s the biggest problem we have,” Mike Jones said.
Jones says he is doing his part to raise awareness about mental health in his community and has used the services himself.
“It’s like a generational thing – the older people I’ve talked to, they’re like, ‘You just have to move on,’ and I think they’ve been conditioned to see that because they’ve made it as far as they’ve come and it feels like they’ve been through what they’ve been through,” he continued.
He says conversations with younger generations are happening, but there is still a problem.
“I don’t know if it’s starting fast enough because the increase in black child suicides is going up,” Jones said.
According to Mental Health America of Georgia, the state ranks 48th out of 50 for mental health care resources and insurance, but in Houston County they hope to provide the resources people desperately need.
The Houston County Health Department has partnered with Houston Healthcare and Mercer University to offer free or low-cost mental health services.
“There have been mental health issues in central Georgia for some time and we want to make mental health care more easily accessible for people at a lower cost,” Gail Godwin explained.
Godwin, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner in the department, says they offer therapy, counseling and can even prescribe medication.
“To my knowledge, it’s the only one that exists in public health in the state of Georgia, and because of that, we’re working hard in our 13-county district to be able to provide Gail’s services,” Chris Sikes said. , the county nurse in charge said.
“The more we talk about it, the less stigma it becomes and the less taboo it becomes, and it’s like we can have more nuanced conversations and get even more complex,” Jones said.
The department has been providing services since October of last year. They say that for now the services are restricted to people 18 and over and hope to increase availability as more people sign up.
If you want to take advantage of these services, call the Houston County Health Department at 478-218-2000 and ask for mental health services.