BOISE, Idaho — For the past year, we've made it a priority to shine a light on the opioid epidemic in Idaho. Starting this May, we begin an expansion of our Finding Hope series in an effort empower even more Idahoans hoping for a better life.
In addition to addiction and recovery, we will investigate the growing need for mental health resources in the Gem State.
"For so long people did not want to talk about mental health , mental health diagnosis, mental health issues," Community Program Manager for Optum Idaho Jody Olson said.
Along the way in our reporting, we began to question if this could be something bigger; if issues like suicide, youth mental health resources, and access to care could all be related to a larger issue in Idaho.
"Some families don't have the time or the ability to get kids to therapy that's very, very needed at the time ," Morley Nelson Elementary School Principal Melanie Koch told us.
"We know it's just as important to see our therapist as it is to go see our dentist as it is to go see our doctor--then we are decreasing that stigma," Terry Reilly school-based therapist supervisor Angie Hernandez Harris said.
At least 20% of people right now are dealing with some kind of mental health distress, from diagnosed issues like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to stress and depression, and often those people feel like they're alone.
So we are expanding our Finding Hope franchise with an even bigger goal: to show the state of mental health in Idaho, where we rank for facilities and care, how groups are stepping up in both the public and private sector, and how a new attitude can help break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues and show people a way to find hope for themselves.
"It's important that people learn to ask for help and get help because it's no different really then a physical wound," Olson said.
If you have a mental health-related story idea, please contact the newsroom by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.