Local organizations: Mental health still a priority in Olmsted County

This article was originally written and published by Megan Zemple of KTTC.

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Rochester Area Foundation held its monthly “Coffee and Conversation” Wednesday, focusing on the topic of mental health in the community.

Representatives from Olmsted County Public Health, Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and Southeast Regional Crisis Center all discussed how they plan to continue to help the community address mental health needs in 2022.

Olmsted County Public Health is starting its 2022 Community Health Assessment. It surveys residents about health needs and then works to find solutions.

Community Health Assessment and Planning (CHAP) Coordinator Derrick Fritz said based on data collected from 2019 and 2021 surveys, the three main areas that they continue to concentrate on is mental health, financial stress and substance use.

He said they have been monitoring how the pandemic has affected people, and after surveying people with taking COVID-19 into account, the three areas of concern are still the top three.

“We completed a COVID-19 impact survey, which is very similar to our community health needs assessment, but focused on pandemic’s impact on an individual’s wellbeing,” Fritz said. “This also allowed us to reaffirm that these priorities are still priorities for the current CHIPS cycle.”

Fritz said workgroups will start in the first quarter of the year to develop an action plan for strategies and then they will be announced and implemented later this year.

Southeast Regional Crisis Center Executive Director Nicole Mucheck said the center was created because there is a big need for services in the community. The center provides 24/7 services.

“We have many individuals out in the community not accessing services,” she said. “It fills a service gap. It’s a safe, calm, community approach, which is different from some other providers.”

The center specializes in rapid response to individual needs, triaging them and referring them to an appropriate level of care. She said that they have been busy. The center serves 10 counties in southeast Minnesota.

Local law enforcement has continued its mental health crisis training, with 74% of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s office now being certified in crisis management.

“We are the only self-sustaining program in the state at the law enforcement level,” OCSO Captain James Schueller said. “That’s something to be really proud of.”

All speakers said they are making strides when it comes to helping those with mental health needs, but a lot still needs to be done.