LIMA — The pandemic has launched a two-pronged attack on mental health in the U.S., creating a greater need for mental health services while reducing the workforce in that profession. Now, the Ohio Means Jobs of Allen County is stepping up efforts to close that gap locally as they try to compete with more significant markets.As time continues to work on the mental health of individuals who feel trapped and isolated due to the trauma COVID-19 has created, the backlog of people requiring mental health services and the number of those trying to get in to see counselors and psychologists are growing. Like in almost every other segment of the workforce, the number of mental health workers to provide help is shrinking.Ohio Means Jobs of Allen County is trying to get information out to people who may want to pursue a career in mental health but think they may not be qualified or are reluctant to acquire student loan debt.The sessions are scheduled for Feb. 24 at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Ohio Means Jobs building. The meeting will introduce the mental health profession and information on financial aid, potential jobs and internship opportunities in the area.Local mental health officials hope the sessions will create more interest in the mental health field to combat an employee shortage across the profession, in areas including case management, clinicians, and nursing. Before the pandemic, there was expanded health care in the field, and now they are playing catch-up as the need increases.“We know that competing with Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland will be extremely difficult,” Mental Health and Recovery Services Executive Director Tammie Colon said. “We are trying to look within our community, knowing there are many people who want to advance their careers and want to get into this career, but they don’t know it’s affordable.”Colon also mentioned ways to get a foot in the door without a college education. She said job openings critical to the profession desperately need to be filled. “We have jobs from House technicians, which don’t require a college education,” Colon explained. “But it does get you in the game. And often, there are those who want to go back to school, but they’re not making a lot of money. It isn’t easy to go back to school. So we’re trying to open up an avenue for that.”
Mental Health and Recovery Services Executive Director Tammie Colon talks about the need for mental health workers in the area during Mayor Sharetta Smith’s press conference Wednesday.
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