Shelby County leaders raise awareness for mental health, addiction resources

Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 6:39 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - City leaders across Shelby County discussed the importance of mental health and addiction awareness Monday morning.

This roundtable breakfast was hosted by Alliance Healthcare Services.

Organizers called it a first-time event where elected officials of both the City of Memphis and Shelby County, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis, first responders, law enforcement and mental health leaders from across the state will be present.

Alliance Healthcare is the largest non-profit behavioral health provider in West Tennessee, according to CEO Laurie Powell.

“It’s the largest comprehensive behavioral health,” Powell explained. “So, we do everything from housing, crisis stabilization, outpatient services, and outreach in children, families, and adults. We serve around 22,000 individuals a year.”

The event is set to raise awareness about mental health and addiction, as well as the resources available for people living here.

“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has really opened our eyes to what we need to do to take care of ourselves and getting help,” Powell said.

Memphis Police Department Chief CJ Davis and Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner both say mental health is just as important for their officers and deputies as it is for the community.

“Many times, we respond to various types of crime situations,” Davis explained. “At least the call may initially start out as that. And then we find out it’s not necessarily a criminal act, it’s a person that’s in crisis. So, it’s important for our officers and also our community members to recognize the difference.”

“Just having the conversation about mental health… long overdue, well needed in this community and all communities throughout the United States,” Bonner said.

According to, 20% of America’s youth ages 13-18 suffer from mental health illness. It’s something, Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon says he intends to address in our county.

“We’ve had a lot of mental health issues come to the forefront… especially since the pandemic,” Sugarmon explained. “They have not had social activities or opportunities. They’ve been isolated because they were out of school for along period of time, so we have to address that and help these children get back on a firm footing.

According to the mental health cooperative – 1 in 4 adults experiences mental illness in a year.

Out of those 1 in 4, between 70% to 90% of those who struggle with mental illness say they see improvement in their symptoms after participating in some form of treatment.

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