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Omaha mental health professionals share resources and concerns with care

Posted at 10:54 PM, Feb 02, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha community is beginning to heal from Tuesday's target store shooting, in which no one was hurt or killed except the gunman.

3 News Now spoke with the gunman’s uncle on Wednesday. He believes this could have been prevented if mental health resources were more available for his nephew.

So what do mental health resources look like in Omaha right now?

3 News Now Reporter Molly Hudson spoke with Region 6 and UNMC to see how accessible resources are and their concerns.

"Most people with mental health are not violent," said UNMC Doctor Howard Liu.

Liu says there has been a surge in the last decade of people seeking mental health care but the capacity is not keeping up.

"You can't have mental health access if you don't have a professional to see somebody, right," said Liu.

He says the shortage of providers was bad before the pandemic and has only grown worse.

But recent ARPA investments in the Behavioral Health Education Center for Nebraska are working to may change that.

"That group really works full time to make sure that across the state from rural small towns to South Omaha, North Omaha that we have access to a pipeline of new providers. Whether that is counselors, psychologist(s), psychiatrists. So that has been really important," said Liu.

But there are challenges to the system.

Liu says the workforce, insurers, payers and the outpatient plan play a role in the stay.

"Of course, there is not unlimited resources and it's costly. I think sometimes having to justify that length of stay, there might be a disagreement at times between the clinical team and the payer and eventually, the people do have to go out," he said.

It’s important to note there are resources available like phone hotlines.

"There can be a challenge on how to navigate that system, but we do want to make sure people know that resources are available," said Miles Glasgow, senior manager of system coordination, Region 6 Behavioral Health.

Region Six believes cost shouldn't be a barrier and has a network of providers for those with or without insurance.

"Those providers are in our are available for outpatient therapy, for assessments, for substance use services, mental health and dual diagnosis services," said Glasgow.

Both UNMC and Region 6 aim to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage conversation.

"Making sure that mental health is being treated equally as important as physical health. And I think if we can continue to do that, that's going to help with access," said Glasgow.

"It's ok to not be ok and it's okay to ask for help with it," said Liu.

SEE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES BELOW:

Behavioral Health Connection Team
402-836-9292 / Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Nebraska Family Helpline
888-866-8660 / Monday - Sunday, 24/7

988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Dial 988 / Always Available

Nebraska Medicine Adult Psychiatric Emergency Services
800-922-0000 / Call for Appointment

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