The demand for mental health services has grown consistently over the past decade, experts say, because of an increased need and shrinking stigma against those who require these services.
In response, mental health service providers, including Adams County’s Community Reach Center and the Jefferson Center for Mental Health (JCMH), have adapted and improved the services they offer.
“Everyone is acknowledging that you can’t deal with someone’s health without looking at the whole package,” said Community Reach CEO Rick Doucet. “Ten years ago you wouldn’t see mental health discussed at the table, but now we’re being included in panels on things like school safety.”
Lindy Schultz, public relations and communications manager with Community Reach, said integrated care has become a major feature of mental health services, with more people now receiving mental health care at their primary doctors’ office.
“We’ve seen an uptick in the number of those who need our services in the last couple years, with the economy and its affects,” she said. “We’re now partnering with school districts and community areas to help consumers with access to our services.”
Community Reach and JCMH have offered their consumers group settings for different sessions, from therapy to wellness classes.
“We have classes on all kinds of subjects, from stress resolution and exercise to budgeting,” said Harriet Hall, CEO of JCMH. “We want to get to people early, before they need extensive services, and these can in some ways be better for them.”
Public outreach and education also have become a top goal for both organizations, to decrease the misconceptions about those with mental health issues, and teach the public how they can help.
Mental health first-aid classes are offered by both Community Reach and the JCMH. The classes teach participants how to recognize common mental health problems as well as the skills to help someone who is in crisis.
“If somebody were to break their arm, first aid teaches people what to do to help that person,” Hall said. “These courses educate people on what’s going on when someone is having a serious problem and how to help.”
Doucet said that, because of beliefs about what someone with mental health issues might do, people often are afraid to help, even when a person poses no danger.
“You shouldn’t assume that a person having problems is going to hurt you,” he said. “Instead, with a little help, we’ll train you on how to calm that person down.”
JCMH has taught mental health first aid to several local police agencies and organizations. Community Reach has a program called Crisis Intervention Training that focuses on police officers, offering them a week-long course on how to deal with these situations. Doucet estimates that Community Reach has trained about 300 officers.
Participants get to hear from experts and work with actors on different scenarios.