As the community continues to grieve and funeral arrangements are made for the four victims of Saturday night’s crash in Cortland, local mental health service providers are available for those in need of assistance.
“There are services available, and we’re here to help people find the resources they need,” said Melanie O’Neal, director of Mental Health America of Jackson County. “We’re not the providers, but we get you in contact with your needs.”
The agency provides the public with information about local providers.
The office is located in Suite 304 on the third floor of the Community Agency Building, 113 N. Chestnut St., Seymour, and is filled with material, resources and contact information for mental health providers.
Jackson County has four mental health service providers, all located in Seymour, O’Neal said.
This week, she provided local schools with a list of contact information for Centerstone, Christopher & Associates, Community Health Center and Schneck Mental Health and Wellness.
She also distributed brochures to give to students about grief, coping and other information. It helps having a place where the community can find information in a central location, O’Neal said.
“I think there is a benefit having an organization that has this information at their fingertips,” she said. “It saves so much time.”
O’Neal said it can be difficult finding resources and sharing a personal experience, but it shouldn’t stop people from seeking help.
“It can be difficult to admit you need help, but it’s normal, and people should seek help if they feel they need it,” she said.
The organization even provides an online confidential screening people can do to see what resources from which they may benefit.
“I think it’s great we can offer that because you can do it on your own time and it can be difficult talking about the situation you’re going through,” O’Neal said.
The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Megan White, director of child and family services at Centerstone in Seymour, said the organization’s crisis team spent Monday at Brownstown Central High School to assist students grieving and will be available to the school as they’re needed. Seymour High School has an internal crisis committee, which was utilized this week. Both schools lost two students.
Centerstone provides various mental health and well-being services from its office, 1443 Corporate Way, Seymour.
White said the organization assisted a number of students at Brownstown individually but mostly as a group.
“The best thing for them in those situations is the togetherness because it’s one of the most therapeutic things in a grieving situation,” she said.
Students who needed individual attention met in separate areas, she said.
The office in Seymour has eight staffed therapists for those in need of additional care as they grieve, White said. The organization serves those who are insured, uninsured or underinsured, she said.
White said the office has received a number of calls from those seeking services following the tragedy and has assisted current clients that knew victims.
She said it is important for parents, friends, family members and teachers to understand everyone experiences grief differently and the timetable to return to the routine they had prior to the event can vary depending on the individual.
It’s equally important for anyone who thinks they may need help to seek it, she added.
“It’s not going to look the same for any two people, but I think there are a couple of signs,” White said.
She said those signs include changes in social behaviors, an increase in risk behaviors, not being able to get out of bed, loss of productivity, loss of appetite and letting grief interfere with daily functions after the initial grieving period is over, which can be a month or more.
It will take much longer for family, White said, given their connection to those who were lost. It can take three months or more before family members even return to a routine, she said, and much longer to process the loss.
“For parents and siblings and other family members, that first year is the toughest because it’s a year of firsts without them every day,” she said.
White said anyone can reach out for services at any time, where they will meet with a therapist and find out what they can do as they cope with the loss and return to life without those they’ve lost.
Those in crisis should call 911 or Centerstone’s crisis hotline, she said.
There’s also support through various groups that meet regularly.
Some people from Jackson County belong to Southern Indiana Compassionate Friends, a support group committed to parents and grandparents who have lost a child or grandchild.
Carol Chandler of Seymour, the treasurer of the organization, said meetings are conducted at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at Vienna Baptist Church, 11 W. Leota Road, Scottsburg. The only exception is December when a candlelight memorial service is conducted on the second Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the church.
The group, which is not affiliated with any religion, has a different topic each month. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Sept. 27.
For information, call Chandler at 812-569-2124 or visit compassionatefriends.org.
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Local mental health resources in Jackson County
1443 Corporate Way, Seymour
Office: 812-522-4341; Crisis line: 800-832-5542
Community Health Center
113 N. Chestnut St., Seymour
Christopher & Associates
1725 E. Tipton St., Seymour
Mental Health America of Jackson County
113 N. Chestnut St., Community Agency Building, Floor 3, Suite 304, Seymour
Office: 812-522-3480; Crisis line: 800-273-TALK
Online confidential screening available at http://www.mentalhealthamericajc.net/ScreeningTools.html
Schneck Mental Health & Wellness
415 S. Walnut St., Suite 221, Seymour
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The stages of grief
1. Shock and denial.
2. Anger and guilt.
3. Sadness and depression.
Moving through grief
1. Check in with yourself.
2. Take time to grieve.
3. Express your feelings.
4. Share your grief with someone.
5. Be prepared of feelings coming up unexpectedly.
6. Take care of yourself.
7. Look for faith in something.
8. Get professional help if you feel stuck in your grief.
Written by Mardi Richmond and Melanee L. Barash, MSW. Provided by Mental Health America of Jackson County.