Cornerstone “Finding Help” Initiative Provides Hope in Alleviating Anguish and Mental Health Stigma in Putnam County, Indiana

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As the world is finally recognizing the gravity of mental health, screening data from Putnam County, Indiana provides a glimpse of the distressing mental health conditions and challenges people experience. March 2022 mental health screening results from Mental Health America of Putnam County (MHAoPC) showcased that 42.5% of participants struggle with symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder and 22.5% of participants with symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is why the innovations of nonprofits such as MHAoPC are significant, especially in rural areas plagued with inequitable mental health resources. 

 

Mental Health America of Putnam County is an affiliate of Mental Health America (MHA), the nation's leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting the overall mental health of all. The missions of MHAoPC include erasing the stigma of mental illness and providing mental health education throughout Putnam County. Their cornerstone programs include the Helping Children/Co-Parenting (HCCP) Class to ensure that parents going through separation are able to support their children in an effective way. Additionally, their Puppet Power program is designed to educate Kindergarten through 5th graders on topics including child abuse prevention, body rights, self-confidence and bully prevention. Now, their latest initiative aims to help people all across Putnam County. 

 

On June 6, 2022, Executive Director of MHAoPC, Karen Martoglio, formally announced the “Finding Help Initiative” at MHAoPC’s annual meeting as an effort to cohesively provide resources for people with mental health conditions. 

 

While MHAoPC has always been the go-to for Putnam County residents seeking mental health assistance, Martoglio has been the one to primarily connect people to resources. 

 

“It is a more connected world [now],” Martoglio says, reflecting on her time as executive director and the changes that have occurred since she began. 

 

Martoglio, who first received formal training in understanding mental health conditions and crisis intervention during her time as a Residents’ Assistant in college, began her career at MHAoPC six years ago. During that time, most people’s phone plans were reserved for calling and texting and access to the Internet was limited. Now, most phone plans include data and kids have more access to the Internet due to school.

 

“When I first started, it was more like I could give the information to people if they didn’t have the points to get that information themselves. Nowadays, that has completely shifted, and we need to adapt to that change as well,” Martoglio says.

 

Thus, a year and a half ago, Martoglio sat down with MHAoPC’s current Co-President, Harriet Moore, to plan out how to make the Finding Help Initiative come alive. They mapped out how Martolgio would usually take calls and took note of what referrals she would advise. 

 

“The biggest question I had in mind when helping create this [initiative] was… ‘What are the resources that I tell people when they need help?’”

 

Using this strategy, a comprehensive list of relevant resources was formulated. This list was printed out and shared across the community along with being posted on MHAoPC’s webpage.

 

Inspired by another affiliate of Mental Health America, MHA of Wabash Valley, which has a similar initiative entitled “Mental Health Navigator,” the Finding Help Initiative page provides pivotal resources for Putnam County residents in particular, in addition to overall national resources and national affiliates. It is important that there are resources specifically catered toward residents of Putnam County, Indiana, in order to ensure that these people have the access and proximity to get their mental healthcare needs met.

 

The resources include, but are not limited to, Be Well Indiana; directories for locating professional health; the contact information for Putnam County’s two behavioral health systems, Cummins Behavioral Health and the Hamilton Center; a link leading you to take a mental health screening and the Crisis Text Line. For more resources, please visit this page

 

All of the resources listed on the page have been cross-checked with Indiana 211. Previously, Indiana 211 had primarily been used for locating local resources. Since COVID-19, it can now be used to connect you directly with a trained counselor. It is another great example of a nonprofit that is transforming to accommodate the needs and concerns of people. 

 

If you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition or would like to check in on your mental health by reflecting on questions you would not have thought of on your own, it is encouraged to take a mental health screening. While screenings are not diagnostic tests, they can help you determine warning signs and whether you should seek a professional’s opinion. As mental health resources are more accessible now than ever before, it is important to take advantage of these changes.