FOX59 Morning News dedicates its 9 a.m. hour to mental health awareness

Morning News

INDIANAPOLIS — Mental health remains a growing concern around central Indiana and nationwide.

FOX59 Morning News dedicated its 9 a.m. hour to raising awareness about mental health and providing access to resources for Hoosiers in need.

The show kicked off with an interview with Kalen Jackson and Kenny Moore II of the Indianapolis Colts. The team has launched the “Kicking the Stigma” campaign to raise awareness about mental health issues.

According to Jackson, the team had the idea before the pandemic. However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the need for mental health awareness and services has grown immensely.

“This is just something that’s very personal to our family, as many know, but it’s also something that affects everyone in our community,” she said.

Moore said the program extends well beyond the football field.

“It hits home. I think this is more important than covering a receiver on third down. This is something I’ll always go through whether I’m playing football or not. I just want to be here to use my platform to help others who are just like me,” Moore said.

We next talked to Dr. Kevin Rand, an associate professor of psychology at IUPUI and practicing therapist.

Rand believes there aren’t enough resources for people to get help. The need is great, he said, but resources are limited.

But who should you talk to?

“As it gets into the clinical realm, you’ll want to seek out help from someone who’s been trained clinically,” Rand said. “That would be licensed mental mental health counselors, licensed social workers or psychologists who are trained in very special techniques to deal with things like clinical anxiety, post-traumatic stress, clinical depression, etc.”

In many minority communities, admitting you need help can be seen as a sign of weakness.

We talked to psychiatrists Tomeika Anderson and Kanwal Sidhu with Community Health Network to address barriers minorities face in getting help.

“There are several factors, but one of the main ones is stigma,” Anderson said. “The Black community has had to endure quite a large amount of adversity and has prevailed through that, so oftentimes in the Black community it can be perceived as a weakness or an embarrassment to admit to needing help or to feeling overwhelmed or helpless or sad or anxious or worried.”

Sidhu addressed the recent FedEx mass shooting and the impact it has had on the Sikh community in central Indiana.

“The Sikhs are definitely feeling targeted, but they’re dealing the best they can,” Sidhu said. ” They’re a resilient community, they’re seeking help from other people, acknowledging the pain. Of course, we’ll see what the long-term consequences are–how the kids deal with it, how the younger people deal with it.”

Some helpful resources

Another part of the mental health conversation includes the criminal justice system and law enforcement.

Psychiatrist Dr. Ashley Overley is the CEO of Sandra Eskenazi mental health center. Her clinicians team up with IMPD officers and detectives and interact directly with those in the middle of mental health crisis.

Overley discussed the Assessment and Intervention Center (AIC), which is part of the city’s efforts for criminal justice reform. It provides safe temporary housing and assessment and referral to appropriate services.

“The AIC is a new kind of resource for our community. It’s something that can serve as an alternative to jail or hospital for people who are at an appropriate level of care for that setting,” Overley said. “The AIC receives voluntary referrals 24-7 from a wide variety of community settings, including self-referrals.”

The facility provides mental health assessments, referrals to treatment, and basic substance abuse withdrawal management, along with peer support from people who have been through similar circumstances and can serve as mentors to others.

Sgt. Lance Dardeen is the supervisor of IMPD’s behavioral unit. His officers are partnered with a clinician before and after someone experiences a mental health crisis involving police. The program started in 2016 to follow up with individuals in need of help.

“We can take our time and try to get these individuals connected,” Dardeen said. “These cases can be very complicated, and what we found is over the years, we’ve had people that we’re still helping to get into treatment and maintain recovery, and this is 2021, and we’re still helping people that we helped in 2016.

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen’s jail has gone from not offering any mental health services to offering more than 100 hours a week. He said the impact of the job weighs on officers, including his daughter. The loss of Deputy Jacob Pickett also heightened his perception of the issue.

“We have really looked at how we can improve the mental health facility not only in our jail but our services in our jail and what we offer to our staff,” Nielsen said.

“We had absolutely no mental health services in our jail. Now with multiple counselors, multiple vendors, multiple services, we have 100 hours a week that we have not only institutional mental health services but addiction mental health services in our facility. That’s only going to continue to grow.”

Nielsen said it’s made a difference for inmates and staff alike. The facility has also contracted a full-time therapist–an addition that has especially helped with officer wellness.

Additional resources:

Dr. Kimble Richardson, a licensed mental health counselor with Community Health Network, was our final interview of the hour.

Richardson talked about what to do if a friend or family member appears to be struggling. He said, instead of asking what’s wrong with them, approach them with care and concern.

“You want to be specific. I’ve noticed that you seem more withdrawn. You seem irritable. Or you haven’t called me back as quickly as you normally do, things like that,” Richardson said.

That approach, Richardson said, may help them open up without feeling like they’re being judged.

“It’s OK to not be OK,” Richardson added.

“Mental health issues are physical issues,” he said “It is about–I call it the total package of health, mind, body and spirit–all of that is important.”

Additional resources:

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