Learn about mental health resources and signs of a crisis

photo by: LMH Health

LMH Health, 325 Maine St., is pictured in May 2021.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience a mental health disorder. Many people suffer in silence due to the stigma that exists about mental health, but communities and community hospitals like LMH Health are making strides to eliminate the stigma and open the door for people to receive the support and services they need.

“The first thing people need to know about mental health is that it is a broad term about mental well-being,” said Sandra Dixon, LMH Health director of behavioral health integration. “It focuses on how people cope with stress, their health and navigate the world.”

Mental health problems can include disorders, which are chronic diseases, as well as situational experiences that interfere with a person’s ability to cope with a challenge. Physical health is often intertwined with mental health. Changes in your physical health can increase or decrease your mental wellbeing. Therefore, treatment should address an individual as a whole.

“Treatment is much more than medication,” Dixon said. “It can come in the form of accessing resources, such as food assistance, housing and transportation. Addressing the factors that impact a person’s ability to access treatment and recovery starts with getting them connected to community services.”

A major misconception about those who are undergoing a mental health crisis is that they are a danger to the public. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 96% of people experiencing a crisis are more likely to harm themselves than to harm others. Not all crises look the same. They can be silent, such as depression and anxiety, or loud, such as manic episodes.

“This misconception causes fear and can prevent family members from seeking help and intervention on behalf of their loved one,” Dixon said. “It is important to remember that mental health disorders are treatable. Recovery is possible and while there may be periods of relapse, folks with appropriate resources can get back to a place of recovery, have successful careers and engaged families.”

Identifying a person in crisis

Mental health crises and disorders can have both short- and long-term effects. When a crisis occurs it can quickly feel overwhelming. It is normal to experience feelings of anger, grief or guilt both for the individual having the crisis and those trying to care for them. It’s important to remember that no one is to blame, just as no one is to blame for a physical illness.

The symptoms of a crisis vary from person to person. Each diagnosis looks different and each person responds differently to treatment. Common warning signs of a mental health crisis are:

• Abusive behavior toward self or others

• Changes in mood and behavior

• Increased agitation, risk-taking or out-of-control behavior

• Irregular expressions of feelings

• Paranoia

• Social withdrawal

“Everyone should know the warning signs of a crisis,” Dixon said. “Once it has been identified, you can visit or call the Bert Nash Treatment and Recovery Center for support. If you think someone is an immediate danger to themselves or others, call 911.”

Community resources

Mental health is an ongoing conversation in almost every community. There are a variety of resources available to the public in Douglas County and throughout Kansas:

• Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center (non-crisis): 785-843-9192 or walk-in during weekday business hours

• Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ: 785-841-2345

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or text 988

• Treatment & Recovery Center of Douglas County: 1000 W. Second St.

• Veterans Crisis Line: Call 988, then press 1

“You can also talk to your primary care provider about the symptoms you are experiencing,” Dixon said. “They can help talk through the best course of action, including medication if appropriate and referrals to community resources.”

Resources available at LMH Health

LMH Health routinely screens patients to identify if a patient may need assistance. The screening focuses on mental health and suicide risk.

“Our social work team is able to operate in inpatient and outpatient settings,” said Lynn Powers, LMH Health social work supervisor. “Anyone in the hospital or clinics can request to speak to a social worker.”

The social work team is able to provide patients with a wide array of resources. A few of the resources available are:

• Caregiver support

• Education about advance directives and durable powers of attorney, Medicaid/Medicare information and supports for mothers with babies and small children

• Food, housing, and utilities resources

• Hospice and respite resources

Transportation options

In addition, LMH Health social workers are able to connect patients to substance abuse treatment programs, Bert Nash, Heartland Community Health Center, local therapists and psychiatrists, and other community services.

“Talking about your mental health and wellness, and connecting to available resources, supports overall health and positive outcomes,” Dixon said.

— Kade Han is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health, which is a sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World health section.


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