One of the biggest issues facing our nation right now is the mental health crisis. It is such a broad spectrum of issues, but one New York county is looking to improve it.

Madison County Chairman John Becker has announced that he is putting together a task force to help assist those struggling with the mental health crisis. To better understand and get to a solution, county officials are establishing a group to develop a comprehensive mental health needs assessment to determine what the priorities in the county should be.

With the establishment of this group, the hope is to develop short term, mid-range and long term goals to assist with the development of needed programs and services to aid those struggling with mental health issues. Chairman Becker says,

We recognize that as we recover from COVID-19 we have to not only worry about the economy and health of our community, but the long term mental health of the community as well. Between a pandemic, children not going to school, less socialization, heightened political tension, and substance abuse we see that mental health is a growing issue and it is time we focus on how we can help our residents even more than we already do.

The Madison County Health Department already offers a 24/7 mental health crisis hotline and due to COVID-19, the number of calls have increased significantly over the last year. Officials say in 2019 the department handled under 200 calls. In 2020 the Madison County Mental Health Crisis unit handled a total of 485 calls. This year alone, officials say the unit has taken 614 calls. The mental health clinic has also seen a significant increase in calls, according to officials.

Chairman Becker says, "This is something that our community needs.  We want to make sure Madison County can recover from the past year, and comes out better and stronger than ever before." Officials say the goal of this task force ultimately is to to create a road map of services that are needed to address mental health and well-being in the community.

Here are some tips for self-care during the pandemic: