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Johnson County woman with bipolar disorder raises awareness for mental health

Posted: 4:44 PM, May 15, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-15 18:23:54-04
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Editor's Note: This story is part of a series of stories, "Are You OK?" from KSHB 41 News and the KSHB 41 Community Advisory Board during Mental Health Awareness Month. Additional mental health resources are available in Kansas and Missouri. Help is always available by dialing 988.

If you or someone you know experiences a mental health crisis, there are resources that can help.

One of those in the Kansas City area is the Johnson County Mental Health Center — a place where you can walk in, be evaluated and set up a treatment plan.

The center helped turn around local artist Celine Sweet's life.

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"When you get help, your whole life changes; my work took off," Sweet said. "I’m involved with my church now, I have friends. My family is tighter with me. I’m just happy with my life, but I had to get the help first."

Sweet's mental health journey dates back to her teenage years when she battled an eating disorder and depression.

Years later, she developed agoraphobia — a fear of leaving her house — and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

"I’ve had the high level of extreme where I’ve been hearing music," she said. "It’s beautiful music, but it’s not there, and I’m seeing colors on the walls that are dancing. It’s just not there, and I know it’s not there. It’s beautiful, but I can’t explain it. And the low? They're really low, and you don’t want to get out of bed or shower."

Much like finding the right combinations of colors for her work, her treatment required the right combination of medication and therapy.

It took years to fine-tune, leading her to seek help at the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

Now, she's able to work with a therapist, case manager, and psychiatrist, all at an adjusted cost she can afford.

"We are able, with our resources, to provide services to people without insurance or that are self-pay," said Savannah Fillion, Sweet's therapist.

Both Sweet and Fillion noted that's just part of what makes the services so invaluable.

Trained clinicians at both Johnson County locations can help people in crisis, whether that's through a referral or someone who walks off the street, starting with an intake process.

However, therapists warn you don't have to wait until you're in crisis to seek help.

"If you’re noticing that it’s not going away, if it’s something that is persistent and it’s persistently affecting your life in a detrimental way, absolutely, please seek services," Fillion said.

Some of the signs to watch for related to anxiety or depression are symptoms that persist for more than two weeks, Fillion said.

Examples include feelings of worthlessness, thoughts of death or self-harm, changes in eating and sleeping habits, an inability to focus and an overwhelming sense of sadness.

For Sweet, she said recognizing these signs is the first step.

But to truly paint a picture of happiness, she said you have to be willing to reach out for help.

"It’s a strength to find help," Sweet said. "It’s, actually, you have to use your strength to find help. It’s not a weakness."

Johnson County resources

  • Johnson County Mental Health Center Main Line: 913-826-4200
    • Call as a starting point to ask about insurance, self-pay, or to schedule an assessment.
  • Johnson County Mental Health Center 24/7 Crisis Line: 913-268-0156
    • An around-the-clock resource for someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • Open Access, Walk-In Services: Shawnee (6440 Nieman Rd) and Olathe (1125 W Spruce St)
    • "We provide same-day, walk-in services during business hours at our Shawnee and Olathe locations. Open Access provides mental health assessments and connections to services at JCMHC or out in the community based on a person’s needs."
  • Johnson County Mental Health Center’s Adult Services
  • Adult Behavioral Health Care Map
    • The Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition created an adult behavioral care map as a starting point for people who may be seeking mental health services — recognizing warning signs, knowing who can help, preparing for an appointment, understanding the range of services that might be available, etc.
  • Mental Health America Screening Tools
    • If you think you may be struggling with anxiety, depression or another condition, Mental Health America offers screening tools to better understand your symptoms.