December 21, 2011 12:41:00 PM
Baptist Memorial Health Care has been a good neighbor.
In 2006, Baptist purchased Columbus' hospital from Lowndes County for $30 million. In return, Baptist officials also promised to invest $40 million in the hospital over the coming decade.
Tuesday, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle unveiled a 26,000-square-foot, $10 million behavioral health facility.
Including the new building, Baptist has invested more than $150 million in the hospital since 2006.
The new Behavioral Health Care Center is another boon for the area.
Mental disorders account for four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries, according to the World Health Organization.
As sophisticated as we like to consider ourselves, there remains a stigma attached to mental health care. Because of that, disorders often go untreated, leading to unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration and, in extreme cases, suicide.
Most of the city of Columbus' homeless population is comprised of people with mental disorders, according to the Community Resource Connection.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates the economic cost of untreated mental illness in the U.S. is more than $100 billion annually.
Statewide, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health estimates 165,652 people need mental-health services. Another 199,000 need help to overcome alcohol and drug abuse.
Baptist hospital's behavioral health services include outpatient chemical dependency services; individual, couples and family counseling; group therapy; medication management; and child and adolescent counseling.
In designing the new building, Baptist went out of the way to combat the stigma associated with a mental health facility.
Muted colors and walls of windows to provide natural light offer a more welcoming environment. There also is an enclosed courtyard with picnic tables and an exercise room.
We hope people will take advantage of the new facility and added staff that comes with it.
Half the battle in mental health is realizing it's OK to ask for help.