AMHC News

AMHC Raises Awareness on Suicide

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is designated as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) encourages everyone to Take 5 to Save Lives!

“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.  “Our State’s suicide rate remains higher than the rest of the nation and more people die from suicide than from car accidents or breast cancer. AMHC is available to anyone in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties experiencing a crisis. To access our Mobile Emergency Services team please call or text the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112.”

Take 5 to Save Lives is a public awareness campaign run by the National Council for Suicide Prevention in support of World Suicide Prevention Day, to be held on Friday, September 10, 2021. The goal of the campaign is to encourage everyone to take 5 simple actions steps that focus on preventing the tragedy of suicide. By taking 5 minutes to learn about suicide, you will be making a difference in the world! The steps include:

  1. LEARN THE SIGNS. Although it may not always be obvious, individuals experiencing an emotional crisis usually exhibit one or more of the warning signs of suicide. Your ability to identify the signs will better prepare you to take action and could help save a life.
  2. KNOW HOW TO HELP. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your friend if they’re having thoughts of suicide. By knowing exactly what to say and do, you’ll be ready to act and keep your friends and family safe.
  3. PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Research indicates that our mental fitness or wellness is crucial to our overall long-term health, and can even protect us from disease. Learn some tips for keeping mentally fit. Make it a priority!
  4. REACH OUT. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress you must reach out for help. You are not alone. Learn about different help options and how to take that first step in seeking help and care.
  5. SPREAD THE WORD. Let’s get people talking! By sharing the Take 5 campaign with 5 other people we can raise awareness of the problem of suicide and equip people with easy tools to help themselves and others. Together we can all make a difference!

International Overdose Awareness Day

WHEREAS, started in 2001 and recognized annually on August 31, International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event to remember those who have lost their lives to drug overdoses, to raise awareness of overdoses, to reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends; and

WHEREAS, in 2020, over 93,000 individuals died the United States from drug overdoses, including 504 individuals here in Maine; and

WHEREAS, the state of Maine has distributed over 90,000 doses of the life-saving drug Naloxone to date, resulting in over 2,500 lives saved; and

WHEREAS, there are now available in the State many types of treatment for substance use disorder, as well as robust harm-reduction activities and recovery support programs; and

WHEREAS, as part of the state’s OPTIONS program, there are now behavioral health specialists in all sixteen counties reaching out to people using drugs and connecting them with harm-reduction services or pathways to recovery; and

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented stress on Maine people of all ages, leading to increases in alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, and other risky behavior; and

WHEREAS, as we have seen global solidarity and shared responsibility with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also respond globally to reduce the harm associated with illicit drug use;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that I, Janet T. Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby recognize August 31, 2021 as

International Overdose Awareness Day

throughout the state, and I and encourage all citizens to take part in activities and observances designed to remember those we have lost, to increase awareness of drug overdoses, and to join the global effort to reduce the death toll associated with drug overdoses.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services to Host Virtual Book Club for Survivors and Learners

AMHC Sexual Assault Services’ staff members Amber Rankine, Client Advocate in Fort Kent, and Kirsten Tenney, Rural Advocate in Machias will be leading a virtual book club for survivors of sexual assault and any community member who wants to learn more about supporting others in their healing journey. The Learning, Health, and Growing through Literature series will begin Saturday, August 7. Participation and supplies are free of charge by registering at sas-info@amhc.org.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services is pleased to host a virtual book club for individuals to learn, heal and grow whether they are a survivor of sexual assault or want to learn more about supporting others in their healing journey. The weekly Zoom meetings will be held Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. from August 7, 2021 – September 11, 2021.

“We appreciate the Maine Humanities Council for making the grant funds available for us to host the book club,” said Julia Miller, Program Director of Prevention and Sexual Assault Services. “This Learning, Healing and Growing through Literature series will bring together participants from the comfort of their own home and create a safe space for them to discuss and share.”

Funding from the Maine Humanities Council will allow attendees to receive free of charge a copy of “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., as well as a journal and 18-count color pen set to help attendees reflect on the weekly readings.

Please register by Wednesday, July 28 by emailing sas-info@amhc.org.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services Advocates support nearly 400 victims per year in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties. They can be reached by calling the 24-hour Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-871-7741. Text and chat is also available Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. The service is free and confidential. For more information, visit AMHC Sexual Assault Services at https://www.amhcsas.org/.

AMHC Expands Adult Crisis Stabilization Services into Washington County

(l to r) Crisis Counselors Ashley Warren, Ricky Devoe and Briggette Newel are part of AMHC’s new adult crisis stabilization unit in Calais. The service opened in June, 2021 and serves individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that it has opened an adult crisis stabilization unit (ACSU) at 127 Palmer Street in Calais. The ACSU joins AMHC’s other services in the same location.

“Prior to the opening of this facility, individuals in Washington County in need of a crisis stabilization unit would be referred to Bangor or Presque Isle, up to 120 miles away,” explained Michelle Ferris, LCSW, Program Director of Emergency Services. “This resulted in individuals having to wait in emergency departments or in the community while their crisis worsened. A local resource will have a significant impact on both the individuals in need of services as well as their family members.”

The opening of the ACSU is possible thanks to the grant funds provided through Davis Family Foundation ($100,000), C.F. Adams Charitable Trust ($30,000), and the Maine Community Foundation ($10,000). “We are grateful for their tremendous support,” shared Ferris. “Due to their generosity, we anticipate providing services for up to 100 clients per year.”

The new space offers five private rooms, two bathrooms, and the facility is handicap accessible. In addition, clients will have a private space to visit with family, friends, or other supports. The open floor plan provides a kitchen, dining, and living room area.

A crisis stabilization unit (CSU) is for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis that would benefit from a short-term stay in a safe, residential-type environment. The CSU has trained crisis staff to offer support, intervention, safety planning, and connection to other services that may be needed. Referrals to the ACSU in Calais can be made 24/7 by calling 207-454-1910. Anyone is welcome to make a referral.

About the Funders

  • The Davis Family Foundation is a public charitable foundation established by Phyllis C. Davis and H. Halsey Davis of Falmouth, Maine, to support educational, medical, and cultural/arts organizations located primarily in Maine.
  • The C.F. Adams Charitable Trust was created by Charles Francis Adams in 1987 and currently focuses on enhancing the quality of life in the Downeast region of Maine and improving children’s behavioral health in Massachusetts.
  • Headquartered in Ellsworth, with additional personnel in Portland, Dover-Foxcroft, Rockport, and Mars Hill, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to provide strong investments, personalized service, local expertise, and strategic giving to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit www.mainecf.org.

Harvest Inn Peer Center Hosts Open House/Free Lunch

Harvest Inn Peer Center, located at 43 Hatch Drive in Caribou, is hosting a community open house on Friday, July 16 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. A free lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (L to R): Christine Brown and Kimberly Robbins review the items that will be available for door prizes, an arts and crafts table, and raffles including a flat-screen television, gift baskets, and more.


Harvest Inn Peer Center (HIPC), a program of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), is hosting an open house on Friday, July 16 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. with a free lunch from

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The center is located at 43 Hatch Drive in Caribou.

 

 “This is an exciting time for Harvest Inn as they make their activities and all they have to offer visible to the community,” said Christine Brown, AMHC Program Director of Community Integration. “The staff and peers look forward to serving the public lunch, sharing information and resources, and having fun with some fundraising efforts.”

 

Visitors to the event will be able to sign up for door prizes, enjoy a free lunch, purchase items from the arts and crafts table, as well as raffle tickets for a flat-screen television, gift baskets, gift certificates, and more. 

 

Harvest Inn Peer Center serves anyone in the community with a self-identified mental health and/or co-occurring substance use issue. The center provides a welcoming, nonjudgmental space for mutual support, community-building services, and advocacy. Services are free and focused on recovery through weekly support groups, wellness training, job readiness support, recovery workshops, group-based activities, and social engagement. 

 

For more information about the open house or services offered, please contact Kimberly Robbins, Manager, by phone at 207-492-1386 or by email at krobbins@amhc.org

Downeast Recovery Support Centers Will Serve as Host Sites for Governor Mills Opioid Response Summit

Community Welcome to Participate and Enjoy Free Breakfast and Lunch

Downeast Recovery Support Centers (DRSC) are pleased to host Governor Mills’ 3rd Annual Opioid Response Summit on Thursday, July 15. The full-day program features live presentations and prerecorded panel discussions. Voices of persons in recovery will be featured prominently again this year.

“Our centers are pleased to serve as host sites for this live, virtual event,” said Amy Day, DRSC Manager. “The annual summit is part of the state’s commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic and we look forward to hearing ideas, strategies, and best practices that support our communities in Washington County.”

Thanks to $6,500 in grant funds through the Maine Community Foundation (MaineCF), the centers will provide a light breakfast and lunch as well as refreshments throughout the day.  “In addition, MaineCF has provided funding that allows us to promote the event as well as pay the $35 registration fee for individuals who are unable to attend in-person at the center,” said Day. “Anyone from Washington County can contact us and we will pay the fee for them to attend virtually from their home or wherever they are located. We are very grateful to MaineCF for their generosity.”

The summit’s theme, “Perseverance, Prevention, and Promise” reflects the resolve and commitment by the State Of Maine to work together to address this crisis. Speakers include Governor Janet Mills, Attorney General Aaron Frey, and Director of Maine CDC, Nirav Sha, MD, J.D. The afternoon will feature a panel discussion with leaders in opioid response from the Biden-Harris Administration.

Downeast Recovery Support Centers in Calais and Machias are programs of Aroostook Mental Health Services (AMHC). The centers provide individuals a place to come and receive support for their substance use recovery journey, connect people to resources, and also serve as a venue for a variety of recovery meetings. For more information or to register for the summit please contact DownEast Recovery Support Center in Calais at 207- 952-9279 or Machias at 207-259-6238.

About Maine Community Foundation

Headquartered in Ellsworth, with additional personnel in Portland, Dover-Foxcroft, Rockport, and Mars  Hill, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to provide strong investments, personalized service, local expertise, and strategic giving to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit www.mainecf.org.

Roads to Recovery and Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope Will Serve as Host Sites for Governor Mills Opioid Response Summit

Community Welcome to Participate and Enjoy Free Lunch

Roads to Recovery (R2R) and Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH) are pleased to be host sites for Governor Mills’ 3rd Annual Opioid Response Summit on Thursday, July 15. The full-day program features live presentations and prerecorded panel discussions. Voices of persons in recovery will be featured prominently again this year.

“Our centers are pleased to serve as host sites for this live, virtual event,” said Stacie Holton, Peer Center Manager. “The annual summit is part of the state’s commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic and we look forward to hearing ideas, strategies, and best practices that support our communities in Aroostook County.” The centers will provide a light lunch as well as refreshments in the morning and afternoon.

The summit’s theme, “Perseverance, Prevention, and Promise” reflects the resolve and commitment by the State Of Maine to work together to address this crisis. Speakers include Governor Janet Mills, Attorney General Aaron Frey, and Director of Maine CDC, Nirav Sha, MD, J.D. The afternoon will feature a panel discussion with leaders in opioid response from the Biden-Harris Administration.

Roads to Recovery and Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope are programs of Aroostook Mental Health Services (AMHC). The centers provide individuals a place to come and receive support for their substance use recovery journey, connect people to resources, and also serve as a venue for a variety of recovery meetings.

For more information please contact:

AMHC Highlights Mental Health Awareness Month in May

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC)  is pleased to join the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in highlighting its “You Are Not Alone” campaign.

“During COVID-19, many of us are challenged by fear and isolation,” explains Ellen Bemis, AMHC CEO. “It is more important than ever to develop coping skills that can help us prioritize our mental health and build resiliency, as well as support others who may be struggling.”

The pandemic has further increased the mental and emotional health challenges individuals are facing. For some, a simple phone call to a trained professional is enough to lighten their burden; for others, more support is needed. AMHC is pleased to highlight some of the following mental health resources that are available:

  • Maine Crisis Line: 1-888-568-1112. Available 24/7 to call, text, or chat
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Available 24/7
  • StrenthenME: 207-227-8198. Available 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. seven days a week to anyone in Maine experiencing stress reactions to the pandemic
  • Maine Frontline Warmline: 207-221-8196 (Text: 898-211). Available 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. seven days a week for Maine’s health care workers, first responders, and school personnel who are experiencing stress as a result of the pandemic
  • For a complete list of resources, including AMHC services county-wide, please visit amhc.org or call AMHC Access Center at 1-800-244-6431.

Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp 2021 Registration Now Open

ATLC campers participate in a team-building activity (pre-pandemic). Registration is now open for 2021. Packets are available in Aroostook County middle schools or by emailing Amber Stedt, Prevention Coordinator at astedt@amhc.org.

Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp (ATLC) is a year-round leadership development and drug prevention program for teens. A part of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), ATLC has continued to meet with and mentor teens despite the challenges associated with the pandemic. Due to continued safety protocols and restrictions, ATLC’s 2021 residential summer camp program will be a combination of in-person and virtual activities.

“Teens will hear from national speakers about positive leadership, attend workshops, participate in teambuilding activities, and small discussion groups,” explains Amber Stedt, Prevention Coordinator. “The program is open to teens currently in grades 6 – 8 in Aroostook County.”

The four-day camp begins in-person on Sunday, June 27 at the Caribou Rec Center followed by virtual camp days on Sundays July 11 and July 25, wrapping up with a final in-person camp day on Sunday, August 15 at the Caribou Rec Center.  Following summer camp, teens can participate in a variety of activities throughout the year, including planning committees, Camp Reunions, applying to be on the following summer camp’s staff, or being a member of the ATLC Advisory Board.

The deadline for registration is Thursday, May 6. Registration packets are available in Aroostook County middle schools with students in grades 6 – 8, or by calling 207-493-3620 or emailing Amber Stedt at astedt@amhc.org.

“As a former camper myself, ATLC made a huge impact on my life. I am proud to continue this work with the next generation of teen leaders in Aroostook County,” shared Stedt. For more information, connect with ATLC at www.atlccamp.org.

About ATLC

Since 1987, ATLC has mentored thousands of pre-teens and teens grades 5-12 in the process of social-emotional learning through a residential five-day summer camp augmented by a series of activities and programming throughout the school year. Pre-teens who attend as campers have the opportunity to become teen staff members who lead programming efforts. Goals include the prevention of early use of alcohol and other illegal drugs, leadership training to develop teen drug prevention leaders, and developing positive role models.

Laurie Deerfield, D.O. Joins AMHC as Medical Director/Psychiatrist

AMHC Announces Laurie Deerfield, D.O. has joined the agency as its Medical Director/Psychiatrist.

Ellen Bemis, CEO, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce Laurie Deerfield, D.O., has joined AMHC as its Medical Director/Psychiatrist.

“Dr. Deerfield brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to AMHC,” said Bemis. “She is passionate about supporting individuals challenged by mental health and/or substance use, and we are grateful to have her as part of our team.”

Dr. Deerfield was most recently in private practice in New Jersey focused on general and addiction psychiatry, caring for patients diagnosed with various disorders including anger management, anxiety/panic disorders, depression, chemical dependency/substance use, and more. She has served as a Medical Director and Provider for substance use treatment and recovery centers, as well as an independent contractor and medical consultant to multiple professional boards and organizations including Professional Assistance Program of New Jersey, Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing, and other health and legal boards.

Dr. Deerfield will be located at AMHC’s Ellsworth Outpatient Office and connecting with clients and staff agency-wide through telehealth. She shared: “I am very excited to be with AMHC and delighted to find such a diversely talented but universally welcoming group of individuals.” In her spare time, she enjoys being outside with her dogs and looks forward to exploring all that Maine has to offer.

AMHC Raises Awareness on Suicide

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month September is designated as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and …

International Overdose Awareness Day

WHEREAS, started in 2001 and recognized annually on August 31, International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event to …

AMHC Sexual Assault Services to Host Virtual Book Club for Survivors and Learners

AMHC Sexual Assault Services is pleased to host a virtual book club for individuals to learn, heal and grow whether they …