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Proposal: Mental Health Support in WV

Out of the 1.9 million residents of West Virginia, 5.5% of adults suffer from serious mental illnesses. Out of those people, 53.1% aren't receiving any mental health support or treatment. West Virginia is ranked number 43 out of 50 for providing mental health services to its residents. We need to make these services more readily available and destigmatize mental illnesses. 

The Issue

Problem Defined

I'm trying to solve the issue of mental illnesses and help people get the help that they need. People are suffering in silence when there are so many resources to help them. Helping people with there mental health issues will also decreased the high suicide rates in West Virginia.

Expand all bullets
Out of 1.9 million people 5.5% of adults are suffering.MORE
53.1% of people suffering are receiving no mental health support or treatment.MORE
West Virginia is listed at 43 out of 50 states for providing mental health services.MORE
West Virginia is ranked 11 out of 50 states for the highest number of suicides.MORE
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in West Virginia.MORE
On average, one person dies every 24 hours in West Virginia.MORE

Go deeper

Diane McMahon
Associate Professor of Sociology - Allegany College of Maryland
I am a sociology professor at Allegany College of Maryland, which is located in Cumberland, MD. I also work as the Faculty Director of the Service Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE) Center at the college. I have worked in a variety of professions in my past that focuses on helping the homeless. Most recently I was the director of a peace and justice organization in Pittsburgh.

I am a great supporter of the work of TheChisel.com because it helps raise up topics that students and community members can work on together, in a bi-partisan manner, to address.
Emma Simpson

The Solution

Proposed Actions
Expand all bullets
Offer mental health services in high schools.MORE

Offering free mental health services to high school aged kids could be very helpful. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between 15-34. If we help kids early on and teach them healthy coping mechanisms we could hopefully decrease the number of suicides in this age group.

Do mental health and suicide awareness events in the community.MORE
Expected Results
Expand all bullets
Increase the number of people who get mental health services and offer them support.MORE

If we offer more mental health services to students in high school it could be a better resource for them to reach out and get the help they need. The APA cited a study in from 2003 that found that high school students are 21 times more likely to visit a school based health center than a community based health center.

Decrease suicide rates.MORE

Getting teens help early on and putting out more information on suicide and mental health can help destigmatize and decrease the suicide rates.


The money to implement the mental health services in high schools could come from state grants, nonprofit grants, or partnering with local hospitals or the health department. We can make the money to get more people involved and help prevent suicide by fundraising and using that money to have local events such as the suicide prevention walks and other informative presentations to help anyone who may need it.

The Conversation

a year ago
I care about getting the residents of West Virginia the mental health care they need because I've seen many of my friends and family silently struggling with these issues when they could receive help. I grew up around the Morgantown, WV area before moving to Cumberland, MD in 2017. My brother, who lived in Fairmont, WV, struggled with depression and reached out to medical professionals but was turned away because they didn't think he was "bad enough" yet. He committed suicide July of 2016. After he passed, my grandmother, who struggled with bipolar disorder went into a very depressive phase and tried to kill herself multiple times over the course of the year after until she passed away in June of 2017 from a fatal blot clot. The times she tried to kill herself, she didn't get the help she deserved and was sent home after a few days in a mental hospital just to try it again and be sent back within a week of being home. Throughout high school I've also experienced multiple friends who struggled with depression, self harm, and attempted suicide. I have personally struggled with some of these issues but was never able to get help with any of them until I moved to Cumberland and was able to get help through Allegany College of Maryland and I want to make the resources that I've had available to the people of West Virginia, especially the high school students who don't know where to reach out.

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