Chronicles of The Farm Woman: Mental Health Association

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Informal meetings con-cerning mental health have been held in the county in the past year.  Plans are now being made to form a Mental Health Association.

Recently a Mental Health Workshop was held in Topeka under the auspices of the Mental Hygiene division of the State Board of Health.  Since Lyon County is in the process of organizing a Mental Health Association, it was a privilege for this writer  to sit in on the workshop.  Some observations may be of interest.

A sprinkling of laymen were in attendance along with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, judges, case workers, health officers and other professional people.  For three days experiences were exchanged in prepared talks and in conversations.

What is a local Mental Health Association?  What is the difference between a Mental Health Association and a Mental Health Center?  A Mental Health Association is a group of citizens, interested in mental health, banded together to improve existing conditions.  Anyone who has heard Judge Myers report on conditions that exist in this county will surely agree that something needs to be done.

A Mental Health Center is a legally constituted body with a staff consisting of a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, and a secretary.  Often one or more professional persons may serve the Center on a part-time basis.  No elaborate building or fixtures are needed.

Eight or ten counties in Kansas now have these Centers.  Atchison County has had a Center for 20 years.  In each case county commissioners appropriate funds and appoint a board to administer the Center.

The goals of a successful Center must be clearly defined and must lie within financial means available.   It is remarkable what some counties are doing on a modest budget.  Shall funds be used for individuals or for large community needs?  Shall funds be used for preventive counseling with a long look ahead?  Shall funds be used for research?  Shall funds be used to acquaint the community with information about mental health.

Individuals may be chary about advocating research if it will require tax money.  Yet research holds the key to the solution of many problems in the field of health and abundant living.

In Wellesley Hills, Mass., with a population the size of Lyon County, they have found that a Mental Health Clinic as part of the pre-school check-up, may reveal a problem child at a time when simple treat-ment and precaution may save more serious problems later on.

A County Mental Health Association should first of all, find out how well adjusted the citizens of this county are.  It is important to learn what can and should be done by con-certed community effort.

Treatment is long and drawn out and expensive.  Prevention may also be expensive.  However, the end results of a preventive program carry rays of hope.  The home, the church, the school, and all agencies of government are vitally concerned in the work of keeping well people from becoming sick.  Mental health is everybody’s business.

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