A day in the life of the Assertive Community Treatment Team in Region 3

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(Client names have been randomly changed to a letter to protect their identity.)

To an outsider, it’s a pretty casual meeting on a recent late summer morning. It would be easy to assume clinicians Ashley Hammond, Angela Saitta, and Tara Dennis, and Clinical Supervisor Brian Lindner are discussing family or friends or catching up after a holiday weekend. Until you listen a little closer.

“She’s been stable, but she does have an upcoming (appointment), so we want to follow up on what her plan is for that,” Angela says of Client D, who they’ll be seeing today.

“I’m concerned he may be drinking again because I got a text from him … after missing his home visit,” Ashley says about Client H, who she’ll be seeing this morning.

They celebrate another client who has taken the initiative to contact the Social Security administration on his own: “He is capable of that.”

Another client may not be able to make their rent payment this month, and the team explores programs that may be able to help her.

The team shares a moment of victory as they hear a client will be returning after being out of contact for a while after a medication change.

“Yes, we found him!” Brian says.

“He’s back in (the area),” Angela shares, before the conversation shifts to the best way to connect with him.

“He likes music,” Angela says. “I’ve talked to him about Game of Thrones.”

Group photo from morning meeting

(Clockwise from front left) Region 3 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team clinician Ashley Hammond, clinical supervisor Brian Lindner, clinician Angela Saitta, and clinician Tara Dennis meet for a recent morning staff meeting.

For clients served by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Region 3 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, mental health support and treatment doesn’t look like what many people may think of as typical counseling or medication management. The team isn’t preparing for a day of office hours and appointments; they are planning for the 16 clients they will be meeting in the community on this day – some at home, some at work, others in challenging living situations because of their serious and persistent mental illnesses and resulting symptoms. Continue reading

Mental illness is a chronic health condition that people can and do recover from

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and it’s a good time to remember that millions of people in the United States are affected by mental illness each year. Whether we are dealing with our own diagnoses or helping take care of someone else who might be struggling with mental illness, the impacts are social, financial, and physical. It’s important to know that we are not alone and that help is available.

Can you help with some context around the millions of people affected by mental illness? How common is it?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness every year. That’s about 48 million people. The group also says that 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness, or 11.4 million people. A mental illness is classified as serious when it affects a person’s ability to be successful in their life at home, work, or school. And speaking of school, kids and teens also experience mental illness — 1 in 6 youths ages 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. So even if you are not counted among those numbers, chances are very high that someone you know, or love, is. Continue reading

Mental illness is normal in our society, and it’s also normal to have a life of recovery

Today (May 11, 2017) the Idaho Division of Behavioral Health hosted an event recognizing Mental Health Awareness month and several Idahoans who are working to support recovery and end the stigma about mental illness. So, let’s talk about the reality of mental health. 

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Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little presented the 2017 Mental Health Awareness month proclamation at a public event in the Idaho Statehouse May 11, 2017.

Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, which is challenging enough. Add to that the stigma associated with mental illness, and it can cause people to avoid help and treatment. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to talk about it and help put an end to the stigma about mental health issues.

How many people really are dealing with a mental illness?

Generally, 1 in 5 adults and children have a diagnosable mental illness. That makes mental illness more common than cancer, diabetes, or even heart disease, and yet we hear much more about those diseases than we do about mental health. That’s why this month is so important. About half of the adults in the U.S. will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives. Mental illness is normal in our society. It’s also normal to live a life of recovery. Continue reading

Join us May 11 to raise awareness and erase mental health stigma

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When it comes to mental health, many people confuse feeling bad with being bad. Mental illness is not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

Many factors out of one’s control influence whether someone develops a mental health condition: genetics, environment and lifestyle. Being a victim of a crime or having a stressful work or home life can make some people more susceptible.

Yet even though most people with mental illness can be successfully treated and live productive lives, less than half of the adults in the U.S. who need services or treatment get the help that can make a difference.

One reason: Stigma. The isolation, blame, fear and secrecy that is often associated with mental illness can discourage people from reaching out, getting the needed support and getting healthy. Continue reading

Mental health resources are available for Idahoans in flooded and damaged areas

Idaho’s behavioral health officials would like to remind Idahoans that resources are available for those who are feeling overwhelmed by the effects of heavy snowfall and flooding.

Almost half of the counties in Idaho have been issued a state disaster declaration. Flooding is expected to continue and may even worsen in the weeks to come as temperatures increase and cause additional snow melt.

“It’s normal for people of all ages to feel a lot of stress and anxiety after a natural disaster such as a flood,” said Ross Edmunds, administrator of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “Natural disasters can have profound effects on people‘s employment, mobility, well-being, relationships, and mental health, especially as they move beyond the flooding and are working on recovering their regular lives, property, and their relationships.” Continue reading

‘Don’t judge’: Celebrate recovery in Idaho at the Statehouse on Sept. 8

Recovery from a substance use disorder or mental illness is a life-long journey that begins when a person decides to improve their health and wellness and live a self-directed life so they can reach their full potential. It’s not easy, and it’s not quick.

And it’s definitely worth celebrating.

September is Recovery Awareness Month in Idaho and across the nation. This year’s theme is “Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!”

Idaho will celebrate recovery awareness at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 8 in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho State Capitol. The public is invited.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little will present a proclamation declaring September as Recovery Awareness Month in Idaho. Participants will hear from Idahoans Trinity Bailey, Garri Ann Biggers, and Michelle McMillan, who are in recovery. In addition, seven Regional Advocates for Recovery from across the state will be recognized, and an award will be presented to the very first Idaho Champion of Recovery.  Continue reading

State’s second crisis center to be in Coeur d’Alene

A second regional behavioral health crisis center will be located in Coeur d’Alene and is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

Details about the contract and specific location are still being finalized, according to Ross Edmunds, administrator for the Department of Health and Welfare’s Division of Behavioral Health.

Continue reading