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Omaha family struggles to find mental health treatment amid pandemic


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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — At 11 years old, Jameson is diagnosed with depression and anxiety. He says he tried to take his own life twice this year.

“It’s like a feeling of emptiness. There’s just no help and nothing that can help you,” he said.

Joined by his mother, Jameson told KETV Newswatch 7 that he sees a therapist weekly, telling us that the coronavirus has made his mental anguish tougher.

“My anxiety got worse because I was used to staying inside and not interacting with people,” Jameson said.

But if Jameson is in the middle of a mental health crisis, his mother Dawn said their only option is rushing to the emergency room at CHI Health Immanuel.

“They’re really struggling to find beds,” she said. “You’re positioned in an ER for multiple hours, multiple days until they can find you a bed.”

Immanuel inpatient psychiatric unit in Omaha has 36 beds, but Dawn said they’re searching for long-term care like Boystown’s 80 bed facility.

Dawn said she and her have applied for multiple programs but are continually stuck on waitlists as long as seven weeks to six months. The mother explained she has reached out to at least 35 programs, many of which are outside of Nebraska.

“We need a more efficient system and a more coordinated effort between the health systems, so that those families never meet that closed door,” said Julia Hebenstreit, executive director of the Kim Foundation.

Hebenstreit said there are resources available, but there could be a better system in place.

“We need to identify what needs and gaps are truly there,” said Hebenstreit. “Is that more bed is that more staffing is that a more coordinated effort in general?”

Until Jameson can get into a program, his mother says she is weighing other options for her son and filling out endless piles of paperwork

“If it takes us out of state then it takes us out of state,” said Dawn. “We’re just going to keep researching and try to find the best care that is possible.”

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