If all factors could be measured and weighed, we probably would find that taking the mental health facility away from Moultrie did not save a dime. We might even find that it cost more in the big picture.

When that facility closed — a place where people with mental health issues received medications and counseling — their alternative was to go to Thomasville or Pelham. Well, guess what? Many of those people needing these services don’t have transportation.

We were told early on that the emergency room at Colquitt Regional Medical Center as well as the county jail were being impacted. So at best, we might assume that the costs were moved from one pocket to another ... again a best case scenario because we must also factor that some people just didn’t get the medication they needed and while that’s an abstract in measuring costs, it’s a reality that manifest itself somewhere.

Well, just this week a group of people representing a broad cross section of services and agencies in our community met and began discussing what might be done. A lot of ideas were put on the table, and it was suggested that a part-time facility might be a possibility here. And that would be great, especially for those who have no transportation for out-of-town services.

But one thing that stood out among the many is the need to educate the public on mental illness. Obviously, there are those who don’t really consider it to be a significant problem. To them, an illness must involve something you can stitch, x-ray, put in a cast or remove surgically.

Yet many families here in Moultrie are affected directly or indirectly by some form of mental illness. Some observers have even suggested that some tragedies experienced here lately may be tied to the fact that we no longer have a mental health facility.

In the upcoming weeks and months, a subcommittee on mental health, coming under the umbrella of the Healthy Colquitt County Coalition, will be exploring ways to address mental health concerns in our community.

We applaud those who have signed onto this project and we encourage the public in general to seek out information regarding mental illness so that we can all embrace a better understanding of these issues. And as months go by, you will be hearing more and more about the Healthy Colquitt County Coalition, which also has subcommittees on childhood obesity, elder care as well as access to primary care.

Someone once said, “if you have your health, then you have everything.” The goal of the coalition is to help provide an atmosphere in our community that is conducive to better health. It’s not the kind of project where successes can be measured immediately. It’s more of a “big picture” process that in time will produce conditions for better health. We are fortunate to have such a strategy under way here.

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