Metro organizations work to bridge financial gap for mental health services

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. -- Depression and mental illness can be difficult to manage. Where do you start, and how much money is it going to cost you?

It can be overwhelming.

Mental illness is more common than you might think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five people live with mental illness.

"There are more people suffering with mental illness than we realize," NAMI of Johnson County board member and instructor Doris Hamilton said. "They say one out of five, but you know what? I think there's more. It's just one out of five that have been recognized."

If you're finding yourself facing a struggle, what can you do, and how much are you going to need to plan to put away to pay for it?

"People are searching for something, and they may not have the financial means to be able to receive that," said Wendy Lyons-Chrostek, senior director of congregational care at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.

Both NAMI of Johnson County and UMC of the Resurrection are hoping to help for free.

NAMI offers support groups and classes not only for those experiencing a mental illness, but for their family members.

Family to Family is an upcoming class that is focused on helping the loved ones of those living with a mental illness navigate their reality.

NAMI of Johnson County also offers Peer to Peer that helps those struggling with mental illness an outlet to understand their diagnosis, and their recovery with help from people who understand what it's like.

"Mental illness is not cheap," Hamilton said. "There's not as much insurance coverage as some medical illnesses. People who have mental illness usually don't make a lot of money because they have trouble with their mental illness. Family members they have to help a lot of times with their loved ones and they may have to help with medication. Hospitalization is expensive."

The Church of the Resurrection has a department of Congregational Care that focuses on the needs of their members and the community that may reach out to them. They offer counseling through a group of interns, but their wait list is often full.

Even if they can't get someone in they say they have pastors on call to listen during business hours, and can help them find the community resource that they need.

"We've helped people to get to treatment facilities, offered them guidance about where to go, and what resources in the community to receive, and are really trying to help people to see that we care about you as a whole person," Lyons-Chrostek said.

Both women said the most important thing you can do for your mental health is take the step to reach out and make the effort to get help, because it will forever be worth it.

"You're not alone," Hamilton said. "You have a lot of people waiting to help you."

"You are valued, and you matter, and we hope that you will find a place to recognize that and to see that," Lyons-Chrostek said.

Olathe Public Schools is working with Olathe Medical Center to offer free classes for students and parents through their "Issues in Mental Health; A Family Speaker and Support Series."

Their goal is to educate and support parents and families of Olathe students and get them connected to the appropriate community resources.

From Sept. 12-Oct. 10 they are offering a class called "Core Concepts for Parenting a Child Struggling with Anxiety." It's a five-week class to help parents with children of all ages at Summit Trail Middle School from 6:30-8 p.m.

Solace House offers a number of classes and counseling options for all ages, individuals, and families. For more information you can visit their website here. 

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