Tragedies like the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting and the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre have left Americans searching for answers, and questioning the availability of mental health services.
"The major obstacles for our population are benefits. Certainly, the indigent clients don't have a lot of resources or places to turn,” explains Dr. Robin Hogue, Regional Medical Director for the Office of Behavioral Health Region 7.
Dr. Hogue says area residents without insurance can come to her office to be put in touch with other agencies.
"We have a contract for case management that accesses sources in the community, particularly going somewhere like Centerpoint to begin with to be referred to agencies like Interfaith Pharmacy."
Many - often complicated - layers make up the disease, but experts say there are certain signs of serious depression that should raise warning bells for loved ones.
"If they have a loss of interest. If they're crying, if there's some problem with their sleep. They're sleeping too much or too little."
Mary Jo Fitz-Gerald is a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at LSU Health Shreveport. She says when a patient comes in to the hospital complaining of symptoms of mental illness, the medical staff will follow a certain process but no one is ever turned away.
"We have a Psych Crisis Unit. If they come into the emergency room, perhaps the emergency room doctors might take care of them and if the emergency room doesn't feel a psychiatrist needs to see them, they may prescribe appropriate medicines."
But Fitz-Gerald says what we've got just isn't enough.
"I believe that we need more state institutions. We need more housing for individuals with mental illness. We need more case management for individuals with mental illness."
Patty Williams runs Changing Behaviors mental health rehab in Shreveport. She says her facility focuses on community outreach.
"To have something available to where they can get to the services or the staff can get to them because that's part of the purpose of rehab, the mental health rehab is we go out into the community."
But all too often, standing in the way of treatment, is the stigma associated with mental illness.
"This is essential. You can't separate the mind and the body. You can't separate the mental health and well-being of a person from their physical well-being,” Williams says.
If you have questions, or feel like you may need help, call the Office of Behavioral Health at (318) 676– 5111 or 1-866-416-5370.