LUBBOCK, Texas — World Mental Health Day is Tuesday, October 10 and for Mary Beth Moran, the hospital administrator at Oceans Behavioral Hospital. On a day dedicated to mental health, advocates ask the community to reach out to and check in on loved ones to make sure they’re doing okay.
According to Moran, the day can be celebrated by checking in on loved ones in person, if possible. It makes the concern more personal.
“Saying ‘I just want to let you know I’m here for you’ and not just through a text message but really truly trying to reach out to people who may suffer with anxiety and depression,” Moran said.
It can be hard for people to reach out for help with their mental health due to stigma or a lack of resources. Even if people do reach out, mental health advocates like Cannon Roberts said there isn’t a plethora of accessible resources in Lubbock.
“Mental health in Lubbock is pretty rough,” Roberts said.
A 2019 study done in Lubbock County found there were 21 psychiatrists, or 6.9 per 100,000 residents, approximately one-half the national average.
Roberts said he wouldn’t really know where to take someone in a mental health crisis. He knows mental health professionals are stretched thin.
“The mental health professionals that I know are very tired,” Roberts said.
He said the county jail is the largest provider of mental health care right now. This is why he hopes for more mental health funding and is sure to check in on his employees at the pie shop where he serves as a manager.
“I do tend to check in with my staff when I come in to make sure everybody’s doing okay,” Roberts said.
Moran said she’s seen increased rates of depression and anxiety and according to Texas Health and Human Services, suicide has become the leading cause of death for people who are 15-34 years old in Texas.
Moran has also seen the shortage of mental health professionals in Lubbock but said they have open beds at Oceans Behavioral Hospital and are happy to take calls or take people in.
She is also aware that the cost of care is a concern, which is why she also hopes for more mental health funding in general.
But in the meantime, Moran is focused on the international day at hand.
“Today is a really important day to reach out to those who have been friends and family members or co-workers or people that you know in the community who have been especially quiet,” Moran said.
Moran said if you notice someone has depressive symptoms or you are struggling with mental health issues yourself, it’s important to reach out.