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Need for mental health services highlighted by Greenwood Park Mall shooting

The Greenwood Park Mall Referral Network is a network of 20 practices that agreed to offer services at a lower cost for shooting witnesses or family.

GREENWOOD, Ind. — It's been a little over a month since a gunman opened fire at Greenwood Park Mall, killing three people before an armed bystander took down the shooter.

That violence highlighted a need, that already existed, for more mental health services in Johnson County.

A network of counselors is working to help people right now and a new grant through the Johnson County Community Foundation will do even more in the future.

When deadly gunfire broke out at Greenwood Park Mall, Erin Coram's son and his girlfriend survived the violence.

"That was terrifying," Coram said. "They were eating dinner in the food court. They were right inside the doorway when they started hearing the shooting."

Credit: WTHR

RELATED: FBI still looking into motive of Greenwood mall shooting

But in the month since, lasting trauma hasn't gone away.

It's why Coram, who's a licensed marriage and family therapist, made sure they got professional help dealing with the effects of that experience.

"If you don't and you're holding these things in, it can develop into PTSD and can develop into some pretty significant trauma responses," Coram explained.

It's also why she formed the Greenwood Park Mall Referral Network.

It's a network of 20 practices that agreed to offer services at a lower cost, right away, for shooting witnesses or family members. Thirty people have called for treatment so far. Coran said many more likely accessed services by going online.

"I know the mental health community right now is overwhelmed and getting into a mental health therapist is tough. There's a waiting list. It's usually expensive if you don't have insurance. So I asked counselors: Would you do some pro bono? Would you do some reduced rates? Would you make room for these people if they call? Because that's the big thing. Don't make them wait a month or two to get in," Coram said.

Credit: WTHR

RELATED: Expert: Counseling should be considered for those who witnessed Greenwood Park Mall shooting

The need for more mental health services was exacerbated by the pandemic. And now, the Johnson County Community Foundation is creating additional resources for the future.

Just days after the shooting, Gail Richards, president and CEO of the JCCF, got a call from Duke Energy.

The company donated $10,000 to a community mental health fund for Johnson County, for long-term mental health help.

"They said let's do long-term and let's do it now," Richards explained.

The grant is an investment, meant to grow, that will pay for things like counselors, telehealth options and increased access for people in need, before issues get out of hand.

"I don't know what the gentleman's issue was at the mall, I have no clue. But, had people like that gotten some kind of intervention earlier, it might have made a difference," Richards said. "I just think people are still reluctant to seek help and they don't know where to go. When you're tipped over the edge somehow, sometimes you can't recover unless you find somebody to go to. And I think it's finding that 'go to.'"

Erin Coram knows the benefits of therapy, firsthand.

Now her son and his girlfriend, who experienced trauma at the mall, do too.

She hopes others take advantage of growing resources for mental health help.

"With the trauma therapies they're able to get and the support, the community support that they had around them, family and community, my son and his girlfriend are doing well," Coram said. "The issue is for the people that don't have that family and community support, to get the help they need."

Click here for more information on the Greenwood Park Mall Referral Network.

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