The faltering economy has more people seeking mental health services.

The stories have sprinkled the national news: People killing themselves and sometimes their families over financial woes.

Laine Young-Walker, Associate Medical Director of the Department of Mental Health, says she’s not surprised. She says when people are hopeless they don’t think appropriately or logically.

Young-Walker says says the economic decline adds to people not getting the help they need, because some of them can’t even afford to get to a doctor.

Financial stress can lead to a multitude of mental issues that materialize into substance abuse, domestic abuse and more. Laine-Walker, who specializes in child psychology, says children, too, can be victims of economy anxiety. When parents lose their jobs or have to move, they might be shifted into new surroundings, new schools, have to make new friends, and that it really affects everyone in the family’s physical and mental health.

Because Missouri has a noted shortage of psychiatrists, who can prescribe medication, the increase in demand for services is complicating an already stressed system. The legislature is considering a bill that would allow psychologists with certain certifications to prescribe medicine, meaning some patients wouldn’t have to wait months to see a psychiatrist. Proponents of the bill say some other states as well as the military have already successfully implemented that system, and that it would ultimately save thousands of lives.

Young-Walker says all Missouri counties have a community mental health center. She says those who need mental health services but don’t know where to turn can get a crisis appointment there, usually on the same day. She says the Department of Mental Health can also provide many resources.

To find a mental health center in your area, visit The Missouri Coalition of Community Mental Health Centers.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download/listen MP3]