Let’s never stop, Idaho! New programs and services offer behavioral health assistance during the pandemic

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” Emily Dickenson

With the COVID-19 pandemic now firmly sitting on our doorstep, most of us are experiencing our first ever black swan event – a once in a generation major occurrence that has come as a complete surprise, challenges our assumptions and ways of life, and tests our collective strength. While history shows us that all pandemics will come to an end, this one does feel infinite.

Adjusting to the “new normal” is challenging, tiring, and it stretches our perceived psychological limits. We’re all feeling pressure and stress about the economy, our health, our relationships with family and friends, and our jobs amid large spikes of COVID-19 cases across some areas of the state. It’s easy to feel like maybe the best times are behind us.

But during quiet moments of despair we might overlook how much more we are connecting with friends and family via technology, the simple beauty and wonder in our own backyards at dawn and dusk, and the new and surprising habits and traditions we are creating that bring us joy and pleasure.

Although it can often feel like it, you are not alone. The Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) in the Department of Health and Welfare is continually thinking about how to better serve the evolving needs of mental health providers and the public. DBH created a statewide COVID19 Strike Team in April that meets daily to address our specific state needs during the growing public and behavioral health emergency related to the pandemic.

Thanks to funding from our federal partners, DBH is now implementing an emergency grant offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) under the federal Department of Health & Human Services, that is allowing us to offer important programs to help Idahoans. 

Continue reading “Let’s never stop, Idaho! New programs and services offer behavioral health assistance during the pandemic”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Let’s work toward a Stigma-free Idaho

042518MentalHealthAwarenessMillions 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, and the Division of Behavioral Health will be hosting a program this Friday at the Idaho State Capitol featuring several Idahoans sharing their stories of recovery, so it’s a great time to talk about it and help put an end to the stigma about mental health issues.  Continue reading “May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Let’s work toward a Stigma-free Idaho”

Idaho Society of Individual Psychology honors IDHW’s Brandon Clark of Lewiston

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IDHW Reg. 2 Clinician Brandon Clark of Lewiston was honored by the Idaho Society of Individual Psychology during its annual conference March 2-3, 2018 in Boise.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare employees were among those attending this year’s annual Idaho Society of Individual Psychology (ISIP) conference March 2-3 in Boise, with the Division of Public Health, Suicide Prevention Program, and Optum Idaho among the sponsors of the event.

IDHW Region 2 Clinician Brandon Clark, who is on the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team in Lewiston, was awarded the “Significant Adlerian Contributor” award for 2018. Continue reading “Idaho Society of Individual Psychology honors IDHW’s Brandon Clark of Lewiston”

Pathways Community Crisis Center set to open in December

The Department of Health and Welfare is pleased to announce that Pathways Community Crisis Center is on track to open in early December in Boise. Pathways of Idaho has been awarded the contract to operate the community crisis center, which is the fourth to open in the state.

“Community crisis centers are critical access points to services for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis,” said DHW Director Russ Barron. “Pathways Community Crisis Center will fill a much-needed service gap in the Treasure Valley, and I am grateful for the Legislative and community support for all of the community crisis centers across the state.”

The crisis center will provide assessment, intervention, and referral services to individuals 18 years and older who are experiencing a crisis related to mental health or substance-use disorders. The facility, at 7192 Potomac Drive, Boise, is centrally positioned and accessible by public transportation.

The overarching goal of the crisis center is to work collaboratively with local law enforcement, hospitals, social service entities, and other community partners to provide a supportive and more cost-effective approach to crisis services. Services will be available around the clock 365 days a year and will be accessed either by self-referral or referral by family, friends, law enforcement, or other concerned community members. Continue reading “Pathways Community Crisis Center set to open in December”

A gift of generosity and recovery at State Hospital North for Mental Health Awareness Month

From IDHW’s Todd Hurt, administrator of State Hospital North

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IDHW State Hospital North Director Todd Hurt and NAMI far North President Virginia “Gini” Woodward with new donated Frisbee disc golf baskets on the grounds of State Hospital North.

OROFINO, Idaho – On a beautiful, blue-sky May day, there was a feeling of gratitude flowing through State Hospital North. The first reason for the gratitude was that it had been a long fall, cold winter and wet spring. The second is that patients were able to get out on the grounds during that beautiful day and play Frisbee disc golf. This disc golf was even more special given that we used new disc golf baskets donated to the hospital from NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) far North.

We have played disc golf for years at the hospital. It’s a great therapy tool that can be used for increasing mood, allowing for exercise, socialization, and joy. Continue reading “A gift of generosity and recovery at State Hospital North for Mental Health Awareness Month”

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

Voice of Idaho award winner Lisa Koller: “Today my life is to help people overcome the stigma”

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May is national Mental Health Awareness month, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is joining with Idaho Regional Behavioral Health Boards around the state to commend individuals who have worked hard to reduce the stigma around mental health and volunteered in their communities to inspire hope, recovery and resiliency.

The winner of IDHW’s first-annual Voice of Idaho award, Lisa Koller, is one of those individuals. Part of her journey to recovery and dedicating her life to helping others with mental illness was inspired by receiving help from an Idaho peer support specialist after she graduated from Mental Health Court in 2007. Lisa now works as a peer support specialist and recovery coach at The Center for HOPE recovery center in Idaho Falls.

Read more below about Idaho’s program of certified peer support specialists from Idaho Division of Behaviorial Health Administrator Ross Edmunds, and Lisa Koller’s personal story of her struggles with substance use disorder and mental illness as recounted in her own words:   Continue reading “Voice of Idaho award winner Lisa Koller: “Today my life is to help people overcome the stigma””

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

Preventing suicide in Idaho

Idaho and the mountain western states continually rank in the top 10 states for number of completed suicides per capita. But the good news is that completed suicides are not the norm – well over 90 percent of people who make attempts do not die by suicide. And with the creation of the Suicide Prevention Program in the Department of Health and Welfare during the last legislative session, the state of Idaho has made preventing suicide a priority.

Tell us about where we are with the Suicide Prevention Program.

We just got the funding to start up the program on July 1, and we have hired three staff, including program manager Kim Kane. We’re very excited about her leadership and expertise in the program. We have one more position to hire for, and then we can turn our energy to youth suicide prevention and intervention activities and public awareness. So you’ll likely be hearing more from us about suicide prevention as the program gets up and running. Meet Kim as she introduces the state’s suicide prevention program at a recent press conference hosted by the City of Boise and the Speedy Foundation.  Continue reading “Preventing suicide in Idaho”

Idaho honors its first Champion and Advocates for Recovery

Recovery efforts in Idaho would not be successful without the important leadership, passion, and hard work of some tireless people in communities around the state. Those individuals were honored and recognized today at a celebration of recovery awareness in the Lincoln Auditorium at the State Capitol.

Idaho named its first Champion of Recovery as well as Advocates for Recovery from around the state. They all were nominated by their communities.

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Darrell Keim

Champion Darrell Keim was chosen for his work in the “development, formation and realization of the Latah Recovery Center in Moscow.” His nomination called him “the face of the recovery community in our rural college community.”

“I’m deeply honored by the recognition,” Keim said. “Our whole committee has worked hard on this project.”

The Latah Recovery Center opened in September 2015.  Continue reading “Idaho honors its first Champion and Advocates for Recovery”