Now more than ever, communities like Franklin County are acting on helping citizens prevent suicide deaths, cope with mental health disorders, and fight the battle against mental illnesses together.
The Mental Health Crisis
2022 was a year that saw numerous suicide deaths but actually showed a positive decrease in rates. Though, the mental health crisis has not completely dissipated. Noel Purdy of Healthy Franklin County revealed that, “40% of community members are living with mental health issues in Franklin County.”
The Mental Health Association of Franklin and Fulton Counties (MHAFF) shared in their 2022 review that they saw a decrease in suicide rates of only 17 suicide deaths compared to 2021 which had 20 suicide deaths. 2023 numbers have not been released yet.
Being aware of the county’s mental health needs can have a significant impact when preventing suicide deaths and providing help to those who need it. A few groups, Healthy Franklin County and the MHAFF, have been key to providing services, programs, and events for the local area when it comes to mental health.
Healthy Franklin County
Healthy Franklin County is a health improvement coalition to help those who desire to take better care of their physical, mental, social, or spiritual well-being. The group’s mission statement is “to promote, strengthen, and evaluate Franklin County’s efforts to improve the health and well-being of all people.”
The backbone support, provided by WellSpan Health and a leadership advisory committee, the common agenda is to nurture and provide resources for the community. Purdy, who is executive director of the coalition, shares, “One of our focus areas is mental health. We have a behavioral task force that works on finding ways to improve mental health in the Franklin County area.”
Some of the new initiatives within the last year include the Move for Mental Health campaign. Purdy gives insight into the campaign “The campaign was to focus on physical activity and how physical activity is shown to improve your mental health.”
Move for Mental Health encourages Franklin County community members to increase their physical movement within their bodies. The Move for Mental Health section of the website has numerous other resources for mental health programs and businesses to fit your specific needs.
The Mental Health Association of Franklin and Fulton Counties (MHAFF)
The Mental Health Association of Franklin and Fulton Counties might just be one of the many places to start if you are looking for direct services, stigma reduction, referral services, and other programs for mental health.
MHAFF offers peer support services with certified peer specialists (people who are successfully progressing in their own recovery and have received intensive training in peer support) to help you progress in your recovery at your own pace. For further information on the peer support services call the number listed here: (717) 264-4301.
Other programs include numerous community support programs. Specifically, there is a mental health support group hosted on Tuesday nights at 6 PM at the Chambersburg MHAFF Office. The group is free as the goal is to help all individuals, gather, share, and gain support for what is occurring in their lives. More information can be found below about this specific event.
Community groups like these are to help anyone who is struggling or feeling like they are walking alone in their journeys of healing and recovery with mental illness. If you or a loved one is feeling anxious, needing reassurance, or experiencing a crisis, the MHAFF helpline is also open 365 days from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM at this number listed: (717) 264-2916
Local Resources and Events
Healthy Franklin County plans to continue their walking campaigns this year. In the spring and fall, virtual walking programs take place that have built-in incentive opportunities. Purdy shares, “Through the incentive program, you will not only be taking care of your physical and mental health but also learn more about the mental health resources provided by Franklin County.”
As of right now, Healthy Franklin County is also hosting a winter streak series. It is a 12-week community program to promote wellness. It aims to encourage physical activity, healthy eating, and reducing stress.
Another partner, MHAFF, is collaborating with the Council for the Arts to host the 2024 Community Support Program Art Show in May of 2024. Any adult or youth (between the ages of 12-17) that has experienced or felt the impact of mental health and lives in the Franklin/Fulton County areas is eligible for prizes. When submitting, a contestant may create any arts and crafts, mixed media, drawings, paintings, needlework, photography, digital art, 3D art, and writings. The theme for this year is titled, “Igniting Hope for Recovery.”
Many other events are developing for the new year including the 2024 Wellness Conference hosted every year and the Walk the Walk Advocacy Event. These events are also said to take place in May hosted by the MHAFF.
Finding the Right Program
It can be difficult to find the right program, group, or counseling center. Luckily, the Franklin and Fulton County Mental Health Administration has provided numerous resources such as The Network of Care for Mental/Behavioral Health website to help find the perfect program.
To find the program that suits your needs, scroll down to the section that says: “Find Agencies, Programs, or Facilities Near You.” Click on the option that says, “Or View Categories.” Once this option is selected, numerous options of programs and assistance are listed including the mental health option. Click the mental health option.
Results such as adolescent/youth counseling, depression, early intervention for mental illness, and general counseling service links will appear on the screen. Choose the specific category that you need assistance with. Services should then appear on your screen. Some services include Pennsylvania Counseling Services (Children’s Services), Greencastle Family Practice and Psychology Services, Keystone Behavioral Health, and Franklin Family Services.
Purdy reflects, “A lot of people are not aware of the resources until they are actually needing them and possibly to that crisis point. We are really trying to shed more light on those free, existing resources.”
Choosing just one program, service, or event, can start to significantly make a positive impact in not only your mental health but also those who are struggling around you. By taking one day at a time and advocating for mental health awareness, positive change, growth, and impact is possible.
Purdy reflects on the mental health resources and crisis in the Franklin County area, “Mental health is health. There are a lot of bad things happening in our world, but I also believe there is a lot of hope too. Don’t give up. Each person has their own specific journey.”
Links to Programs, Resources, and Events: