Mental health simulator to show how individuals access resources

LAFAYETTE, Ind. − A unique mental health simulation and workshop is going to be held Wednesday for local and state-wide elected officials in which to take part.

According to its organizers, this event’s goal is to address the opportunities for improvement in mental healthcare systems on local, state and federal legislative levels.

Who is behind this simulation and workshop?

Valley Oaks Health, a mental health and addiction care facility, and its local legislative forum are planning Wednesday’s mental health simulation and workshop.

“The forum is comprised of individuals and organizations invested in advocating for appropriate legislative action to address mental health and addiction concerns in the communities we serve,” Dr. Monique Kulkarni, a licensed psychologist and senior director of Clinical Services at Valley Oaks Health, said.

Simulating how individuals access local mental health services

As opposed to a primarily presentation-based event, Wednesday’s simulation and workshop will instead feature what people go through in order to receive local, needed mental health services.

According to Kulkarni, multiple stations manned by mental health professionals representing different mental health services will be present. Legislators will go from station to station in an effort to get mental health services required for the mental health issue described to them at the beginning of the simulation.

“(The mental health services representatives) will tell you what they can or can’t do and possibly direct you to another table, which represents another mental health provider,” Kulkarni wrote. “(The goal is) to highlight the range of mental health needs in our community and provide an opportunity for participants to try navigating the complex network of mental health resources available in our community.”

Who can participate in the simulation?

Unfortunately, this simulation and workshop is not open to the public but instead to legislators, including current state and federal representatives and senators, sheriff, mayors and county commissioners as well as any candidates on the November ballot, according to Kulkarni.

“(However,) the group does put on an annual legislative forum that gives the public opportunity to hear about the current state of our mental health system,” Kulkarni said, “policy priorities for mental health providers, and focused Q&A with elected officials about these topics.”

When and where is the event?

The workshop will take place Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. through 1 p.m. at Howarth Center, 615 North 19th St. in Lafayette. Kulkarni noted that the event will not be able to accommodate public observers during the simulation.

“This event has been a collaborative labor of love by so many people who are passionate about improving the state of the mental healthcare system,” Kulkarni said. “The identities/characters in the simulation are based on real people members of our group know and have tried to support in some way.

“The mental healthcare system is on the precipice of a dramatic overhaul, and we want to make sure our elected officials are equipped to act on behalf of the best interests of their constituents.”

Margaret Christopherson is a reporter for the Journal & Courier. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @MargaretJC2.


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