Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Addressing mental health helps community

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 7, 2013 at 12:07 a.m.

Scientists often say America is suffering from an epidemic. Last year, there was the West Nile Virus, and leaders often point to the growing obesity problem. But one epidemic we are concerned about is not always widely recognized because not everyone suffers from the exact same problem or exhibits the same symptoms. This epidemic is mental illness in America.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 26.2 percent of Americans at least 18 years old suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder every year. That means about one in four Americans, or 80,891,330 of the 308,745,538 counted in the 2010 U.S. Census, faces a daily struggle with mental illness.

With such a large portion of Americans affected, it is disappointing to see the apparent lack of support for the mental health industry in our country. But in Victoria, mental health care is taking a step forward.

The Gulf Bend Center is making progress in its plans to open a wellness community that functions as a transition unit. Thanks to a $250,000 federal starter grant and a matching grant from the Johnson Foundation, the center has already bought 3 acres for the 34-unit community housing complex in the 1100 block of Nimitz Street from Mid-Coast Family Services and plans to have the community up and running in two years.

We applaud Gulf Bend for taking this step to better serve the needs of mental health patients in the Crossroads. We understand this will be temporary housing, but it will provide patients with a place to stay while they receive treatment and still go about their day-to-day lives instead of forcing them to find treatment out of town.

As the goal of this facility states, this could help by both transitioning citizens dealing with mental illness back into society as well as cutting back on the number of hospital admissions for co-occurring mental illness and chronic diseases. Patients staying at this facility will have access to a staff of two to four medical personnel as well as third-party medical services.

We are glad to see this facility is in the works for Victoria. Our residents will be well served in this kind of transitional unit. But even more than the opening of a new facility, we are glad to see the conversation and services for mental health are still gaining attention in the Crossroads. With so many people suffering from a myriad of disorders, we cannot afford to sweep this issue under the rug, and we applaud Gulf Bend for its continued work to both promote awareness and help address this issue in our area.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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