Health professionals, stakeholders, and elected leaders gathered at the Yates County Auditorium on Monday for a discussion on the long- and short-term plan to address mental health in the Finger Lakes.
Dundee School Superintendent Kelly Houck recently brought to the attention of public officials the lack of resources available to help children and families in the district that might be suffering from a mental health crisis. Houck says the time for talking is done.
“We need actual resources that are true,” she explained. “Actual resources that are available to Yates County residents.” Houck says that making those resources accessible is a must when it comes to addressing the problem head-on.
Concerns in Yates County were heightened after Finger Lakes Health announced that they would cease accepting new patients at their 10-bed inpatient behavioral health facility in Penn Yan.
Many members of the community were stunned by the decision, and how quickly that decision was reached.
Senator Tom O’Mara says the primary issue is coordination of care.
“I think we need to be looking at mental health as something to be treated in the same sphere as medical health,” he said after the event. “The care needs to be coordinated and the services need to be made available.”
Sen. O’Mara says building on available treatment options is a priority – and that the community would be better served if those dealing with mental health crisis’ could be directed to specific service paths.
“Early-intervention is critical,” added Assemblyman Phil Palmesano. “We know that we can prevent problems down the road if we address them early.”
Congressman Tom Reed added, “We share the widespread concern and care about the growing crisis and lack of available services to respond to ever-increasing needs for mental health care,” he explained. “Consequently, we appreciate this outpouring of community input. Rural communities and regions face unique obstacles to accessibility, efficiency, and cost effectiveness in this arena of care. Today’s roundtable highlights this community’s determination to face this challenge and find the best ways to address it.”
The event was coordinated between Yates’ three leaders in State Senate, State Assembly, and U.S. Congress.