Linn County Commissioner Will Tucker said this week that he will help spread the word about a tri-county program called Mental Health and You, an application for smartphones that provides information about mental health resources available locally.
Dr. Caroline Fisher updated the Board of Commissioners about the project, which is available in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties.
So far, no schools in Linn County are participating, but Tucker said he will help Fisher and others get information into the Sweet Home, Lebanon and Albany schools, including home schools.
Fisher said the project cost $15,000 to start and has an annual sign-up fee of $2,500. Much of the initial cost has been underwritten by Samaritan Health System foundations and the Mullins Charitable Funds, the Youth Mental Health Council, Rotary clubs, the Benton Community Foundation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Mid-Valley.
Fisher specializes in psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry through Samaritan Health Services.
“There are usually warning signs before someone commits suicide,” Fisher said. “This app provides information about what we should be looking for, as well as local phone numbers of services where people can get help.”
Fisher added that every page also has a hot button that connects the caller with emergency services.
Fisher said she knows of at least two times when the app has been used to save lives.
“We have one of the highest teen suicide rates in the country,” Fisher said. “We lose a child almost every quarter.”
The Corvallis School District has installed the app on all district-issued iPads, Fisher said.
“We are encouraging students in every school in the three counties to download the app,” Fisher said. “It’s free and easy to install and use.”
Commissioner John Lindsey said that unfortunately, he believes the teen suicide rate is going to continue to climb due to the disintegration of the family, the legalization of marijuana and continued issues with other drug abuse by adults.
“No one wants to talk about the effect of drugs,” Lindsey said. “Individuals aren’t thinking clearly.”
Fisher said teens face the issue of bullying, plus they have to deal with parental drug abuse and domestic violence.
“But suicide crosses all socioeconomic levels,” Fisher said. “In Corvallis, kids say they are under pressure to achieve.”
To learn more about the Mental Health and You app, visit www.mhuapp.org.