CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Leaders in Clinton County say COVID-19 has led to an increase in mental health issues among local teens.
"It's okay to not be okay," said Kathy Martin, Director of Operations at Healthy Communities of Clinton County.
She said while isolation is needed to slow COVID-19, that isolation is also causing an increase in mental health issues, especially in a rural community like Clinton County.
"The suicide ideation has definitely increased, anxiety and depression," she said. "Even those who might have had that just a little bit has now greatly increased for our kids."
Indiana has some shocking suicide statistics.
"One in five high school students have suicide ideation or a suicide plan and that is something we have got to combat," said Martin.
"Indiana, before all of this, ranked second in the nation for teen suicides," said Shan Sheridan, Executive Director of the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce. He is also works closely with local youth.
"We're seeing even younger, the junior high kids being affected by this," he said. "So we as adults need to step up and stand up and be a part of the solution."
Sheridan says IU Health and Mental Health America-Wabash Valley's Safe2Talk line is having success reaching the younger, tech-savvy generation. All you have to do is text "SAFE2TALK" to 765-742-0244.
"It's completely anonymous, no one knows your name, no one knows where you are they are simply texting with someone on the other end," he said.
IU Frankfort Hospital also has behavioral health support. The service provides 24/7 virtual access to advanced practice nursing and psychiatry for emergency patients. Having this virtual service helps smaller, rural hospitals like IU Health Frankfort enable broader access to behavioral health services, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have the suicide hotline number that we are blasting out on social media," said Martin. "We also hold mental health awareness volleyball games and basketball games in the winter against Clinton, White, and Tippecanoe County teams."
There will also be a mental health awareness football game happening on October 2nd between Clinton Prairie and Twin Lakes. Healthy Communities also puts on the Stepping on Stigma 5k every year. Martin said putting mental health in such public spaces helps reduce the stigma and start important conversations that will save lives.
"For parents, really just look out for changes in behavior in your child," she said. "It's ok to ask those questions. We would rather you ask the questions and everything be fine than something else."
"We have a support team," said Sheridan. "They're a group of people who love them care about them and want the best for them."
- Call Healthy Communities of Clinton County at 765-659-6063
- Mental Health America-Wabash Valley Crisis Center
- Text SAFE2TALK to 765-742-0244.
- Community Howard
- 24/7 toll free crisis hotline: 800-273-8255
- Four County
- text "IN" to 741-741 for anonymous, free crisis counseling