Helping Low-Income Patients Get Help - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Helping Low-Income Patients Get Help

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Web Producer: Jason Bailey

The Mental Health Association of Vanderburgh County received $21,000 from a fundraiser by CBS newsman Mike Wallace and humorist and columnist Art Buchwald.

They talked about their personal battles with depression, and helped raise $72,000 for the local mental health agencies.

The money raised will be for the Mental Health Association's supplemental medication project, a program that helps low-income patients get emergency supplies of psychiatric drugs.

Seven years ago, Michelle Mills suffered domestic violence at the hands of her then husband.

"When I finally was able to escape the situation, I had a nervous breakdown because of it. The man was very, very violent," says Mills.

Mills continues, "He cut my throat, burned me, did several mean things and because of that I have post-traumatic stress. I have flashbacks occasionally. I have anxiety attacks and I also have battered woman's syndrome, which means certain situations can cause triggers."

Those triggers she handles very well because of the anti-depressant Effexor.

She recently filled the prescription at Stratman's Pharmacy, which participates in the Mental Health Association's supplemental medication project.

When low-income psychiatric patients don't have the money for their medication, the program pays for a 30-day supply.

Mariann Joyce of the Mental Health Association says the potential for regression in treatment is increased if a patient cannot get their medication.

"They can have very adverse side effects and all their doctors will tell them, 'do not stop taking this immediately.' so, it's really important that we can respond to them immediately when they call because we usually have a turn-around time of 48-hours to give them approval, and it may be the next day after that they can go down and get their medications," says Joyce.

Afterwards, the Mental Health Association helps patients apply for medicare, medicaid or another long-term assistance program.

It's all been a godsend for Michelle whose husband recently lost his job and their insurance. Without the program, she would have had to come up with $127 to pay for her medication.

"If it wasn't for that, I don't know what I would have done. I mean, if it hadn't been for them doing that, at least for this month; that is one less thing I have to worry about," says Mills.

The Mental Health Association says the $21,000 from the "Blues Brothers" event will pay for two-hundred emergency prescriptions.

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