Parkersburg News and Sentinel. May 11, 2022.
Editorial: Prevention: Tackling the problem must involve action
This is National Prevention Week, and here in West Virginia, the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Behavioral Health is partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to spread the word about “the importance of substance use prevention and positive mental health,” as the DHHR put it in a news release.
To that end, there are the usual webinars and conferences — valuable, perhaps, but certainly coming across as officials, bureaucrats and academics talking amongst themselves.
“Listening to WV Youth” features highlights from focus groups of those age 15-20, funded by a SAMHSA grant. Anyone who has spent any time at all around people in that age group know they are experts at saying what they think authority figures want to hear. But if they were honest, unfiltered and far-reaching in their discussions, one wonders which “highlights” will be chosen for the public to see.
Further, it is worth wondering just how much state and federal money we are going to keep throwing at those who have figured out they can profit by perpetually “tackling” this problem that has been killing Mountain State residents for more than a decade (generations, really, if we are being honest about this evolving plague).
“Prevention is an integral part of the behavioral health continuum of care,” said Christina Mullins, commissioner of BBH. “Throughout the state, certified prevention specialists work with community partners to strengthen communities and reduce risks related to substance misuse and substance use disorder. This work is critical to build resilience and help break the cycle of substance use.”
By all means, if there is ground to be gained by proclaiming a prevention week, gain it. But putting aside the bureaucratese, the bottom line is prevention starts with better mental health and treatment resources, a brighter economic outlook, education to erase the stigma that prevents us from properly addressing mental health and addiction issues in the first place, and an honest look at the socio-cultural factors that have made it so easy for this plague to find a home in Appalachia.
West Virginia residents who have no hope that lawmakers and public officials are working for THEIR future, are going to feel little effect from prevention efforts that too often come across as bureaucracy existing to serve itself.
The Intelligencer. May 9, 2022.
Editorial: New Suicide Hotline Could Save Lives
With a boost from a federal government grant, it looks as though West Virginia is well on its way to being able to launch its three-digit system for giving those with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts quick access to help. When the state Department of Health and Human Resources launches 988 on July 16, it will truly be a lifeline.
Right now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center based in Charleston answers West Virginia calls to (800) 273-TALK (8255).
“Coming in July, that number is going to be even more accessible,” said Sheila Moran, communications and marketing director for First Choice Services. “People will be able to dial simply 988 to reach someone 24 hours a day. So, anyone who is feeling suicidal, or any kind of mental health crisis, can call that line.”
According to Our World in Data, hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffer from depression. That is just one of the concerns that could lead someone to a state of crisis. Mental health lifelines are essential in helping people get that help — and to let them know they are being heard.
We here in Appalachia do not always do the best job of being compassionate, empathetic and willing to talk about mental health. Generational belief in the stigma associated with mental health woes continues to be an issue.
But 988 gives them a way to reach out for help, even easier to remember than today’s number. Surely it will save lives; though even one life is worth more than the work done thus far.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph. May 7, 2022.
Editorial: Get it done: Toll booths should accept debit, credit payments
While we aren’t for sure why it is taking so long, the West Virginia Parkways Authority is finally inching toward a plan that would allow for cashless payments at all turnpike toll booths.
The authority board announced last month that it had awarded a $24.8 million contract to technology company TransCore for upgrades to the toll collection system along the 88-mile toll road, which extends from Princeton in Mercer County to Charleston in Kanawha County.
Jeff Miller, executive director of the Parkways Authority, called it the “single biggest project” the agency has undertaken in the last 20 years.
The contract includes installation of state-of-the-art technology to expand E-ZPass and other forms of electronic payment to potentially allow cashless toll payments at all turnpike toll booths if the authority board decides to pursue this in the future, a press release issued by the Parkways Authority said.
Why is the authority board even still mulling over this?
The use of debit and credit cards for toll payments is a long-overdue necessity. Stop thinking about it and just get it done as quickly as possible.
For those motorists who don’t travel the turnpike on a regular basis, having the ability to pay for turnpike tolls with debit or credit would make the drive a whole lot easier. Who wants to be digging for loose change in their pocket at a toll booth?
Most of us already use our debit and credit cards everywhere we go. We pay for groceries, our restaurant meals and even fuel at the gas pump with debit and credit cards. So, of course, we should be able to use these cards at toll booths as well.
This is the year 2022. Why are interstate travelers without a current E-ZPass still being required to pay turnpike tolls with cash and coins?
Not every traveler may have spare dollar bills, and pocket change, readily available. Some people travel without cash — using debit and credit cards only.
Good grief. Just get it done, and let the interstate travelers pay turnpike tolls with their debit and credit cards.