September is designated as Suicide Prevention Month and Aroostook Mental Health Center has been partnering with other community organizations to highlight awareness, prevention, and local resources that are available to everyone.
“According to the Maine Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Mainers ages 10-45,” explains Michelle Ferris, Director of Emergency Services. “AMHC has been busy this month working with a number of other organizations to raise awareness. Maine’s suicide rate remains higher than the rest of the nation; I recently learned that more people in Maine die from suicide than from car accidents or breast cancer and for every homicide in Maine, there are seven sucides. AMHC is available to anyone experiencing a crisis. To access our Mobile Emergency Services team please call or text the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112.”
Activies that have taken place include:
Crisis Intervention Team training for Law Enformcement in Houlton – AMHC collaborated with NAMI Maine (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to train 17 officers on behavioral health issues. The offiers were provided tools and resources to manage behavioral health crises in the community.
Suicide Prevention training for Resident Assistants, UMFK
Out of the Darkness Walk, Fort Kent
Awareness table at Machias Saving Bank, Caribou
Student presentations on suicide prevention at Van Buren Middle and High Schools
Illuminate Life event, Boys and Girls Club, Presque Isle on Septembre 18
UMFK Student Health Fair on September 19
Community Suicide Awareness Presentation with NAMI and MADRN (Make A Difference Right Now), on September 19 in Calais
Anxiety and depression screenings at Cary Medical Center Health Fair on September 21 in Caribou
An open house for the Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH), located at 36 North Street, will be held on Saturday, September 14 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. ARCH, a service of Aroostook Mental Health Center in collaboration with Link for Hope, is a place where individuals can come and receive support for their recovery journey. ARCH will help connect people to resources and also serve as a venue for various recovery meetings.
It will be an important time of sharing with the community how a peer support recovery center like ARCH provides such a benefit to those struggling with alcohol and drug use.
The grand opening will include an overview of services offered, refreshments and a ribbon cutting at 3:30 p.m. All are welcome. Overflow parking will be accommodated at the former Portland Glass building next door. For more information, please contact Emily Bragdon at 493-1278 or Trudy Rairdon at 521-2283.
For a little more than a year, the Downeast Treatment Center in Ellsworth has been working with area hospitals and organizations to help those with substance use disorders. Now, treatment center leaders are hoping to expand on the help being provided.
The opioid crisis affects people across the entire state and now the Downeast Treatment Center is providing more opportunity for those people seeking help.
“I don’t know if I‘d be alive,” said DTC patient Ryan Miller. “I really think this place saved my life.”
Before Miller was a patient at the center he was behind bars. Now he’s employed and in his own words, picking up the pieces of his life.
“This and the structure from the Hancock County Drug Court program really has brought me a long way in life,” he said.
Leaders at the center are now focused on removing barriers to treatment so that more people can find help.
“Through a federal grant that’s come through Healthy Acadia we’re able to pay for treatment for people who either don’t have insurance or don’t have enough insurance so that cost is no longer a barrier,” said Healthy Acadia Community Health Program Manager Penny Guisinger. “It’s no cost to services to people who would benefit from that.”
The DTC provides medication-assisted treatment, using doctor-prescribed Suboxone to fight addiction.
“It takes care of cravings, and it keeps people from going into withdrawal, and those two single issues will wreck someones life,” said DTC Clinical Advisory Committee member Dr. Julian Kuffler.
Medication-assisted treatment paired with group counseling is what’s helping get addicts on the path to recovery.
“Being here is the only time they can talk about their recovery and their struggles,” said DTC Substance Abuse Counselor Lisa Groo. “Being out in the big wide world…there’s a stigma attached”
Through customized treatment plans, expanded hours and financial assistance, DTC leaders are hoping to help even more people.
AMHC urges pregnant and parenting women who use drugs or alcohol to call the Maine Mother’s Network (MMN) 24/7 referral line today.
Aroostook, Washington and Hancock Counties, Maine (Friday, May 29, 2019)— Aroostook Mental Health Services (AMHC) is urging women who are pregnant or parenting children five years of age and under to join a new, free program in northeastern Maine that can help them create a substance-free future for them and their children. The referral line for Maine Mothers’ Network is open 24/7 at 1-800-244-6431.
“Pregnancy is a time of hope for the future, and we know that for some women who use drugs or alcohol, the time can be a powerful force for change. Our goal is to help them gain access to needed services to attend to their substance use or become substance-free in order to give their baby the best possible start,” says Lorraine Chamberlain, LCSW, and Program Director at AMHC. “But we also know that breaking free of substances is both physically and mentally hard. Maine Mothers’ Network helps mothers with their unaddressed needs that are underlying substance use – helping them break the cycle of drug or alcohol use for good.”
In the context of an opioid epidemic that resulted in more than three hundred fatal overdoses in Maine last year, the program’s mission is even more urgent. Per the Maine Center for Disease Control, Maine’s per capita rate of substance-affected babies is the highest in the nation. Data from the Augusta-based Maine Children’s Alliance show that one in ten babies born in Aroostook County is born drug-affected, and this correlates with higher rates of infant death during the first year of life – a problem that is on the rise in Maine.
“This program is cost- and judgement-free,” says Chamberlain. “We want moms to call us, so we can help them get to the place they want to be. Our agency has helped thousands of people in Aroostook County recover from substance use over the past fifty years. We aren’t here to judge. We’re here to help.”
Each mom will be assigned a case manager who can help her with various needs – from health coverage, to healthy food for her and her baby, to help finding a place to live, high-quality childcare for her children, or get training for a better job. At the same time, moms will learn more about events from their own early lives that have led to the stressors that too often underlie high risk behaviors like substance use – and start the process of healing. National experts from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) have recognized this program as an example of “evidence-based practice,” and skilled practitioners will be engaged using tele-health technology, ensuring that moms living in the country and small towns still receive first-class care.
Maine Mothers’ Network is offered through a consortium of partner agencies across the state of Maine, including AMHC, Crisis and Counseling, Day One, Tri-County Mental Health Services, and Wellspring. It is funded through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.
AMHC is a private, non-profit community health and social service organization with operations in Aroostook, Hancock, and Washington Counties, Maine. We offer mobile crisis response and stabilization, outpatient, behavioral health home, rehabilitation, residential, peer support, supportive visitation, case management, and educational services to meet the community’s mental health, substance use, and brain injury treatment and recovery needs. Our mission is to provide integrated healthcare services that maximize an individual’s potential to recover and improve their quality of life.
Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. Here are some facts about the prevalence and impact of mental illness.
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.
1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.
2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.
6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a mental health condition.
70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.
Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.
Just over half (50.6%) of children with a mental health condition aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.
African Americans and Hispanic Americans each use mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.
Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.
Consequences Of Lack Of Treatment
Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.
Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 10–34.
More than 90% of people who die by suicide show symptoms of a mental health condition.
Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.
What Is Stigma?
People experiencing mental health conditions often face rejection, bullying and even discrimination. This can make their journey to recovery longer and more difficult. Stigma is when someone, or you yourself, views you in a negative way because you have a mental health condition. Some people describe stigma as shame that can be felt as a judgment from someone else or a feeling that is internal, something that confuses feeling bad with being bad.
Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame, and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support and living well. Learning how to cope with stigma and how to avoid and address stigma are important for all of us.
Founded and sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (now Facing Addiction with NCADD), Alcohol Awareness Month was established in 1987 to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcohol addiction by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcohol addiction, and recovery. Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use!
According to the NCADD, “Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. More than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has abused alcohol.” Warning signs of alcohol abuse include:
Drinking to calm nerves, forget worries or boost a sad mood
Guilt about drinking
Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop drinking
Lying about or hiding drinking habits
Causing harm to oneself or someone else as a result of drinking
Needing to drink increasingly greater amounts in order to achieve desired effects
Feeling irritable, resentful or unreasonable when not drinking
Medical, social, family or financial problems caused by drinking
How is AMHC addressing the issue?
Individual Outpatient Therapy (IOP)
Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Treatment programs, which require regular attendance for a set period of time.
Join AMHC for the 20th Annual Denim Day on April 24th in support of Sexual Assult Awareness Month!
STAND UP, SPEAK OUT: WEAR DENIM TO BREAK THE SILENCE
Wear Denim for your mother, sister, brother, grandmother, uncle, neighbor, cousin, cashier, teacher, father, friend… Wear it for all those who have been affected by Sexual Violence. Show your support. As a Community, we can end violence.
In 1992 an 18-year-old Italian woman was picked up by her driving instructor to begin her driving lesson. Soon after her instructor sexually assaulted her on the side of the road. She reported the incident and he was convicted. The instructor appealed the case to the Italian High Court. In 1999 the court overturned the conviction, with a member of the High Court declaring that since the victim was wearing very tight jeans, the instructor could not have removed them himself, therefore the victim must have been a willing participant. Women of the Italian legislature protested the decision by wearing jeans. As news spread so did the protest. In April 1999 the first Denim Day was established in the United States.
For more information please contact AMHC Sexual Assault Services at 1-800-871-7741
For over a decade, people in The County suffering from brain injuries have turned their experiences into art as part of the Center for Integrated Neuro Rehabilitation (CINR) program based in Caribou. Now, that art is on display at the Caribou Public Library for the entire month.
Pam Searles, a clinical consultant with CINR, said this is the first time the facility has ever showcased their clients art via a public display.
Keely LeBlanc, a CINR brain injury support specialist, said she often uses art as a medium through which her clients can both express themselves and re-develop skills that may have been lost due to a neurological condition.
“They did such a great job,” said LeBlanc,” that Pam suggested we contact the library and see if they would like to hold a display.”
Caribou Public Library Director Hope Shafer said she and the library staff were “thrilled” and “excited” to bring awareness to the public about both the center and people in the area dealing with brain injuries.
“We hope to bring awareness by having this group showcase the incredible art their clients have done,” she said, “and to help others recognize why this artwork is so incredible.”
Searles said CINR, which is part of the Aroostook Mental Health Center (AMHC), primarily focuses on helping those with trauma or an acquired brain injury to get back into and functioning in society. That goal is accomplished through many outlets, such as art, she said.
“Art helps them manage their emotions,” said Kevin Huston, a rehabilitation technician at CINR, “and to express things that otherwise can’t be expressed. Some of our people have aphasia, or the inability to use words, so it’s a useful outlet. If a right-handed person has a stroke and loses the ability to use that side of their body, they really have to concentrate on things like drawing and using their motor skills.”
LeBlanc said she hopes the exhibit will help members of the community learn more about the experiences of people with brain injuries.
“I hope people will know that those with a brain injury can do the same things others can,” she said. She wants folks “to look at them as a human being, and know that while sometimes they may look OK, you may not be able to tell visually that something has happened to them. Often times people don’t take into account that there are things below the surface.”
Huston said this is one of the primary misconceptions about brain injuries, adding that it “is not always evident,” and that people with brain injuries sometimes exhibit different characteristics.
The art pieces themselves were drawn as part of the program’s efforts to improve motor function, the following of directions, and problem solving. For one project, clients had to draw straight lines and follow a pattern, while another involved placing beans over a tracing of an image.
LeBlanc said that some aspects that go beyond the directions, such as which colors to choose, can be overwhelming to certain patients and may cause them to stop. Other clients, however, began with specific patterns in mind and ended up becoming so absorbed in the project that the end result did not resemble their original intention.
“For some people,” LeBlanc said, “it can be hard to plan out. It can be overwhelming.”
David LeTourneau, a CINR brain injury specialist, said the organization’s specific mission is to work with people so they can become “as independent as they can possibly be.”
“We want to help people acquire the skills needed to obtain their own apartment,” he said, “or to do their own grocery shopping.”
CINF is CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredited, and while it specializes in brain injury rehabilitation, staffers also are able to help clients get in touch with other mental health professionals working under AMHC.
Jamie Owens, director of marketing and development at AMHC, said the organization has been providing services to people in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties since 1970. AMHC now serves about 6,000 clients annually.
Searles said that if a client comes in with issues related to mental health counseling or substance abuse, CINR staff will make referrals to the appropriate organization.
“We all collaborate together,” she said, “to help support our clients’ needs.”
While the library exhibit had only been up a few days, Shafer said she’s already heard a great deal of positive feedback from patrons.
“Most are drawn immediately because of the artwork,” she said, “and will say that they need to bring their mom or relative back so they can see it. The display brings out a lot of stories from people with family members who have had injuries, and I’ve heard people say they wish this had been available for their uncle, aunt, cousin, sister, or friend. We are blessed to have this available in Aroostook County.”
Aren’t you glad there are social workers in the world? What would the world be like without them?
Social Work Month is in March and this year’s theme is ELEVATE SOCIAL WORK.
Each day, nearly 700,000 social workers nationwide work to elevate and empower others, giving them the ability to solve life’s problems, cope with personal roadblocks and get the services they need. Social workers are needed now more than ever as the nation grapples with serious issues such as income equality, preventing suicide, ensuring access to good health care for all, as well as addressing the growing opioid addiction now gripping the nation.
You may not realize it, but social workers are everywhere—and they work across AMHC in most all of our service locations. For generations, social workers have worked tirelessly to improve our wider society and make our nation a better place to live. For example, they work in mental health facilities and clinics and hospitals helping place people on the path to recovery from sickness and mental illness. They support our brave military personnel, veterans and their families. They are in schools, helping students overcome issues that prevent them from getting a good education, and they protect children who have been abused or neglected. They also help children find new families through adoption.