So much of what we hear in the news these days is about health reform and health integration. The cost of health care is a driving factor in this discussion. In the United States, we are now spending $3 trillion on health care, which represents just over 17% of the country’s total economic spend. Health reform is about controlling the upward spend, improving the quality of care, as well as improving patient satisfaction with the service. As this discussion has broadened to include community services, such as WCMHS, there is a greater recognition of the importance of mental health, developmental and substance abuse services. At WCMHS, we consider ourselves a community services provider, which is part of a larger health care system. The importance we have in providing treatment and support, in both office and community settings, is directly connected to the fact that 40 percent of the nation’s health care spend, noted above, is attributed to mental health and substance abuse issues. In addition, we focus strongly on the social determinants of health, which are those areas of life that provide us with a foundation. These are things such as housing, work, social connection, education, economic stability, and access to health care. The graph below depicts the major determinants influencing health status, and it should be noted that only 10% of one’s health status is related directly to the delivery of health care.
Simply put, the work we do at WCMHS is essential to assisting people with their overall quality of life, and it is important that we network with health care providers to optimize good physical and mental health.
We identify our work with health care and other community services providers in terms of collaboration, coordination, and integration. Here are some examples:
Coordination with Community Support Program (CSP) and Community Developmental Services (CDS): One of the most important functions we deliver for our service recipients is through community outreach. Our CSP program provides people who have severe mental health challenges a case manager, as well as support workers, who will go to their homes, help them to get out for groceries, doctor’s appointments, work, social events, and more. Case managers take the lead in networking with the primary care provider and/or the local community health team to assist individuals in addressing their health care needs.
Our CDS program performs the same function, assisting people with developmental challenges to connect and integrate within the communities where they live. Case managers may be assisting a person living independently in an apartment or living with a home provider in a family setting. CDS has service coordinators who work directly with the client, family, and doctor to assure that health care and dental needs are met.
Collaboration with Psychiatric Practitioners: Our psychiatric division is comprised of two psychiatrists, two nurse practitioners, and one UVM resident, who work closely with each client and case manager, communicating medication changes both verbally and in writing to the primary care provider for collaborative care. Recently, the WCMHS Psychiatric Division moved as a group to the Central Vermont Medical Center Campus in order to enhance coordination and communication for its clients. The group is now housed on the 2nd floor of Building C in Berlin.
Integration of Therapists Into Primary Care Practices: WCMHS therapists are embedded in four health clinics throughout the county in order to enhance immediate availability of counseling for those patients who need a referral for psycho-social issues. Current locations are: Barre Internal, Waterbury Medical, Granite City, and Grainger Road in Berlin, with plans for expansion to another practice in the very near future.
Coordination with Nursing: Our WCMHS Nurses are essential to administering medication to our clients, educating our staff to assist with medication and clients to self-manage; monitoring overall health of the client, and providing direct service and supports both in the community, the doctor’s office, and our residential care homes. Our nursing staff offers a level of expertise and flexibility that is essential for our service recipients and greatly valued by our staff.
Pediatrics Pilot to Coordinate Care: In an effort to coordinate care for children in our services who receive therapy or are provided special supports in their own public school or in one of our educational treatment programs, we have identified common clients, connected the psychiatric provider with the pediatrician and documented notes into each other’s systems following a doctor’s visit. Case managers are attending appointments whenever possible. This same effort has been made with The Health Center in Plainfield.
Intensive Care Services: The WCMHS Emergency Services response team works daily with its colleagues at Central Vermont Medical Center Emergency Department, responding to individuals in mental health and substance abuse crisis.
New in 2016
Regional Learning Collaboratives: Regionally, service providers from both medical practices and the community (Council on Aging, Central VT Substance Abuse Services, Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice, WCMHS, Support and Services at Home, Community Health Team, and The Health Center) have come together with the purpose of working collaboratively to form one team on behalf of an individual who has exceptionally high health and service needs. Participants of the Collaborative are utilizing the same tools and approaches across all programs with the goal of creating a person-centered Shared Care Plan that would be used by all the providers. Regular team meetings will take place in order to address health needs in a coordinated fashion, potentially reducing redundancy in services and creating savings.
WCMHS will also be joining others involved with The Health Center in Plainfield to share specialties through an educational series for providers.
Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid: WCMHS is now able to bring a course on mental health to community groups: medical practice staff, businesses, schools, service providers, landlords, faith community, public services, such as libraries, and more. The Mental Health First Aid course has two focuses --- one on adult mental health issues, the other on children’s issues.
The adult Mental Health First Aid course is appropriate for anyone 18 years and older who wants to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. This is an 8-hour course. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, psychosis, and addictions. The course teaches: signs of addictions and mental health issues; 5-step action plan to assess a situation and help; impact of mental and substance use disorders; local resources and where to turn for help. For more information call: Laurie Pontbriand at 223-6328.
Youth Mental Health First Aid USA is an 8 hour public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.
The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants learn to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan. For more information call: Kirk Postlewaite at 229-1399.
Prevention and Wellness: WCMHS is always expanding options for prevention and wellness through our Wellness Collaborative. Last month’s website article was on Wellspace, a location at 23 Summer Street which offers: mindfulness, yoga, art, pre-vocational skills training, exercise and many other group offerings for both adults and children. More can be found on our website describing these programs, to which primary care providers are regularly referring due to the excellent outcomes of reduced stress and increased coping strategies gained by program participants.
On behalf of all people who come through our doors at WCMHS, we will be working to provide you with the best possible support and treatment, including coordinating with your health care provider. We recently adopted a new tag line after surveying our staff for the best possible choice. We believe this exemplifies our mission and hope you agree…….
WCMHS: Where Hope and Support Come Together
© 2014 Washington County Mental Health Services All Rights Reserved