The state Department of Public Welfare wants to reduce mental health stigma.
A new initiative, "Mental Health Matters," is being funded by a reduction in Community Hospital Integration Program Project, or CHIPP, funding to a county that was unable to move clients into the community in the time frame that was originally planned and from money set aside for litigation needs that wasn’t used, according to department spokeswoman Donna Morgan.
Morgan said stigma often prevents people with mental illness in asking for help. The initiative aims to raise mental health awareness and offer mental health first aid training to non-mental health professionals in 24 counties.
"It might be a soup kitchen worker who sees someone in line who might be struggling, so they might be trained with this training to how to approach the person, how to calm them down, that kind of thing,” Morgan said.
The Department of Public Welfare will also make resources on mental illness available to family members and will continue to partner with different groups such as the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the State Office of Veterans Affairs to reduce the suicide rate among veterans.