Smith County Commissioners Court approve proclamation, May as ‘Mental Health Month’ in Smith County

Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - May is National Mental Health Awareness month and Smith County Commissioners have approved a resolution proclaiming May as Mental Health Month in Smith County.

Part of the resolution reads, “Public and private institutions, businesses, and schools to commit our community to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health.” Calling on all of the county to acknowledge mental health. Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said there is no shame in talking about mental health and seeking help.

“We want people to feel open about communicating their mental health issues and seeking out help,” he said. “We understand that it’s a collaborative effort, takes the whole community to be involved.”

So when the Behavioral Health Leadership Team of Smith County asked commissioners for a resolution, Moran said they knew they had to help out, as they have made mental health a priority for the county.

“We’ve been traveling the region trying to find a best practice and get some facilities that we can emulate in Smith County. Really to give relief to our law enforcement, keep folks out of the emergency room and out of the jail where they don’t belong,” Moran said. “Where they really need to be in an in-patient facility and receiving mental health treatment.”

Waymon Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of the Andrews Center and Steering Committee Co-Chair for the Behavioral Health Leadership Team in Smith County. He was presented with the resolution during Commissioners Court.

“In Texas we are one of the least funded states in the United States. So locally, Judge Moran, the county, and the rest of the community, we’re coming together to see what we can do as a community to improve mental health, behavioral health for our area,” Stewart said.

The resolution came about thanks to a community effort through Behavioral Health Leadership Team (BHLT).

“Smith County has that and it’s been operational since 2014. I’m one of the co-lead, Sally Schultz,” Stewart said. “So I was able to be there and the county is also a part of that organization, which represents about 60 or 70 agencies throughout the community that provide behavioral health care. So we’re all working together, collaborative, trying to make the dollars stretch as far as we can with that group.”

Stewart said they are looking at different areas to improve, including access to services. Moran says the county is working on some potential solutions which could include a regional mental health center.

“It’s going to be costly, it’s going to be something that the community is going to have to dig in and determine if it’s something they want to invest in. It’s nothing we can do alone,” Moran said.

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