September 30, 2022

Mental health first on the list for the Jasper County Community Health Needs Assessment

Top priorities named by county health department

Mental health remains a top priority for Jasper County according to the Community Health Needs Assessment shared with the Jasper County Board of Health during its July 28 meeting. Jasper County Health Department Administrator Becky Pryor explained the top 12 needs for the county and what action steps are planned to address them that were found in a collaboration with MercyOne Newton in the needs assessment.

“I feel like it is an ambitious plan,” Pryor said.

A need throughout the state and country, mental health topped the list followed by substance misuse (drugs), your own health/preventive and wellness, homelessness and child care rounding out the top five. Oftentimes needs overlap each other and can be addressed in multiple ways throughout the plan.

“Many things that we are doing in mental health, substance abuse, homelessness are in the Jasper County Cares Coalition that meets the second Tuesday of the month,” Pryor said.

She said it has really changed when looking at the assessment from “we don’t have enough in our county” to “let’s tell them what we have in our county” for mental health.

Healthcare staffing, up-to-date local emergency room, healthcare transportation, access to primary care, obesity, affordable housing and poverty round out six through 12 on the list. Working with partners including the JCCC, the Newton Police Department, CICS, NAMI, EFR, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, YMCA, House of Mercy, CIS, Discover Hope and Capstone, among others, will help to address the variety of needs throughout the county.

“We think we have enough services in our county, it is just letting people know what services are available,” Pryor said. “Jasper County is well equipped with a lot of different resoures it is just getting people into the services and letting them know that no matter whether they can pay, there are resources for them.”

Board chair Margot Voshell asked how the department will measure if the work from the plan is successful. Pryor will look at data from all of the agencies to see how many visits there are and what seems to be working, looking at the numbers of people and how many referrals are needed and if there are gaps in services, as well.

“I think the numbers show the best data,” board member Julie Smith said. “In the past five years, the numbers just continue to go up for medication and therapy appointments. The numbers really kind of show what is going on.”

When looking at the past five to seven years, Smith said all of the services that have developed for the county have helped with the increase in numbers due to the fact that people are now more aware of what is available. Continued marketing and bringing awareness to services, she said, is still needed to reach as many people as possible.

“You don’t really know until you go looking for it what information you need,” Smith said.

Keeping community partners at the schools, hospitals, clinics and others informed is a big part of relaying information to the public

“The last couple of years we have been present at registrations at the schools in Jasper County and I think that has been helpful in getting information out,” Smith said.

Pryor said when it comes to partnerships with agencies in the area, Jasper County is set apart from its neighbors.

“Jasper County Cares, our community partners, really do come together to work on these plans and try to continually improve,” Pryor said. “There is a lot of good participation in the group.”

Like most large-scale plans, it is a work in progress and an ever-changing document. But with the work put in to specific action items to address the needs of the county, the residents already have a head start in partnerships with community organizations.

“We will add and take away goals from this over time,” Pryor said. “I feel like it is a lot of things for three years but last time we accomplished most goals or are in progress, we felt like we make good headway.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondaliynews.com