Category: <span>News</span>

AMHC Seeks Community Feedback on Aroostook’s Opioid Epidemic

Erik Lamoreau is the Project Coordinator for a Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Community Opioid Response Planning (RCORP) grant which aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality of opioid use in Aroostook County.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) was the recent recipient of a Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Community Opioid Response Planning (RCORP) grant, which aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality of substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD) in Aroostook County.

Community feedback is a critical part of the planning effort. “This 18-month planning grant provides the funding needed to conduct a thorough needs assessment, gap analysis, strategic plan, and action plan,” said Erik Lamoreau, Project Coordinator. “Our goal is to obtain feedback from as many individuals as possible from northern, central, and southern Aroostook about what is working well and what is not working as we address the opioid crisis in our communities.”

The agency is receiving support from its consortium members: Northern Maine Medical Center, Cary Medical Center, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, Houlton Regional Hospital, Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, and Wabanaki Public Health. In addition, stakeholders from the recovery community, the Emergency Management System, municipalities, representatives of at-risk populations, community leaders, and more are being contacted for one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and/or participation in a community survey. “It’s critical that we hear from a diverse group to ensure we develop the best path forward for addressing this epidemic,” explained Lamoreau.

A community survey will be provided electronically and by hard copy. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for individuals to respond,” shared Lamoreau. “The survey is posted on AMHC’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AMHC1964), website (www.amhc.org) and will be widely distributed through community partners. The electronic version is mobile-friendly and we are happy to provide hard copies to individuals or organizations that prefer that method.”

This 10-minute survey will conclude at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 20, 2020. All individuals who include their name and a contact number will be entered into a drawing for one of four $50 gift cards. Winners will be contacted on Monday, December 21, 2020. Please note: Prizes will only be awarded to individuals living in Aroostook County.  If you would like to participate, please reach out to Lamoreau at elamoreau@amhc.org.

About HRSA

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $200,000 with 100% percent funded by

HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

AMHC Response to COVID-19

Message from Ellen Bemis, CEO

“As the pandemic continues it is normal to experience anxiety. Caring for our physical and mental health is critically important during a time like this. AMHC is here for you. If you are in need of professional mental health assistance please reach out for a confidential telephone, tele-video (Zoom) or in-person appointment by calling our Access Center at 1-800-244-6431.”

AMHC services remain open.

  • AMHC is following the Maine CDC and Governor Mills’ guidelines regarding face masks, physical distancing, hand washing and facility cleaning.
  • We are asking all clients to please wear a face mask when visiting our outpatient offices.
  • If you have never had a video appointment with your provider, the first time may be a bit scary. Here is a great tool from SMI Advisor to help you prepare for your visit! https://smiadviser.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/How-to-Prepare-for-a-Video-Appointment.pdf

As of May 5, 2020:

  • Pursuant to Governor Mills’ Stay Safer at Home order, AMHC will extend its current practices through May.
  • We are asking all clients to please wear a face mask when visiting our outpatient offices.
  • If you have never had a video appointment with your provider, the first time may be a bit scary. Here is a great tool from SMI Advisor to help you prepare for your visit! https://smiadviser.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/How-to-Prepare-for-a-Video-Appointment.pdf

As of April 20, 2020:

These are some of the most difficult times many of us have ever experienced. If you or a loved one is in crisis, Mobile Crisis Services are available 24/7 by calling the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112. If you prefer, you can request to speak with a local crisis provider in your area.

As of April 10, 2020:

  • AMHC continues to accept new referrals for therapy, case management and more. Please contact our Access Center at 1-800-244-6431 for more information.
  • For AMHC clients who are meeting with providers by Zoom, all protocols and measures are in place to ensure client safety and confidentiality.
  • As a member of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services Maine, AMHC thanks the Alliance for providing the following resources for consumers and providers. http://thealliancemaine.org/covid-19-resources-and-updates/
  • The Recovery Coach Academy scheduled for April 21 – April 24 at Roads to Recovery in Caribou will be rescheduled at a later time.
  • Our Substance Use Peer Recovery Centers are supporting the recovery community by offering individual and group meetings via Zoom. For more information please reach out to your local center:

As of April 1, 2020:

  • AMHC continues to accept new referrals for therapy, case management and more. Please contact our Access Center at 1-800-244-6431 for more information.
  • We ask families and individuals seeking crisis intervention to call the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112 from where they are rather than going to the Emergency Departments. AMHC Mobile Crisis responders can meet individuals via telehealth and in-person as needed in the location of the individual’s or family’s choosing.

As of March 24, 2020:

  • RTF (Residential Treatment Facility) is open to individuals living in Aroostook County who have been carefully screened for symptoms.
  • Supportive Visitation Services are being scheduled via Telehealth.

As of March 20, 2020:

  • Mobile Crisis Services can be reached by calling the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112.
  • Sexual Assault Services can be reached by calling the Maine Sexual Assault Support Hotline at 1-800-871-4471.
  • Referrals to AMHC Residential and Crisis Stabilization Units in Aroostook and Washington counties will require the referral source to screen for COVID-19 symptoms prior to the referral being accepted.
  • MAT Clinics remain open for either face-to-face or telehealth services but clients are screened for symptoms and carefully monitored to ensure social distancing. Please check with your provider prior to your appointment.
  • AMHC Outpatient Services: for one-on-one treatment sessions staff is relying on telehealth and telephone appointments as much as possible. In-person appointments are screened for symptoms before the appointment is confirmed.
  • Group meetings are limited to fewer than 10 people per CDC guidelines.  Some groups are being offered via telehealth resources.  Check with your site prior to attending.
  • All Mental Health/Substance Use Peer Recovery Centers are closed to visitors but remain open for telephone and tele-video appointments as well as through Facebook. If you need support from your local peer center please call them at the following numbers

Being in isolation can be hard on our body, mind, and soul. Lorraine Chamberlain, Program Director of Behavioral Health and Integration offers tips on how to stay positive during this time.

 

As of March 17, 2020:

AMHC is looked to as a community leader during these uncertain times. In addition, the health of our clients and staff is our highest priority. Our teams are meeting daily to ensure that we are following the latest recommendations from the CDC and taking all necessary precautions to protect our clients and staff while we continue to deliver services.

The following links will help all of us to stay informed and plan appropriately:

  • Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC): Current status of disease spread in Maine; links to information for health care providers; links to practical information for the public.
  • Maine 211: Maine CDC and 211 Maine have launched a new option for Mainers to get answers to questions about COVID-19 at any time. This service is available by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211, or emailing info@211maine.org.
  • Governor Janet Mills: Up-to-date information about state emergency orders and declarations; links to relevant resources.

We are pleased to share an interview that Lorraine Chamberlain, Program Director of Behavioral Health and Integration, had with WAGM TV8 about the importance of remaining calm during this critical time. By working together and adhering to CDC recommendations, we will help reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

AMHC Receives 2020 Caring About Lives in Maine Award

The AMHC Zero Suicide Leadership Team was presented the 2020 Caring About Lives in Maine (CAL ME) Award by the Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP). Accepting the award was Michelle Ferris, LCSW, AMHC Program Director of Emergency Services.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that the AMHC Zero Suicide Leadership Team was selected for the 2020 Caring About Lives in Maine (CAL ME) Award. Presented by the Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP) and its Advisory Council, the award recognizes individuals and organizations promoting suicide prevention through education, stigma reduction, active intervention, and/or ongoing support of suicide survivors.

“At AMHC we believe that one suicide is one too many and we take the public health issue of suicide very seriously,” shared Michelle Ferris, AMHC Program Director of Emergency Services. “Thanks to the Zero Suicide initiative we have been able to advance our practices of screening, assessment, intervention, follow up, and community education and collaboration.”

Highlights include training all clinical staff in current best practices, enhancing AMHC’s electronic service record to capture more data related to suicidality, and reducing the stigma related to suicidality and help-seeking behavior. Thanks to organizations like the United Way of Aroostook, AMHC has also increased its capacity to offer more community-based trainings on this topic.

Sheila Nelson, MPH, MSW, and Program Manager for the State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Maine Center for Disease Control, nominated AMHC for the award. The MSPP, led by the Maine CDC Adolescent Health and Injury Prevention Program, is committed to excellence in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. “We recognize that vibrant community partnerships are essential to preventing suicide, promoting resiliency, and supporting recovery and well-being,” said Nelson. “We thank AMHC for your hard work and are looking forward to recognizing your efforts on behalf of Mainers in your community.”

The award was presented on October 1, 2020, at the annual Beyond the Basics in Suicide Prevention conference, which was held virtually this year. For more information on “Zero Suicide,” please visit www.zerosuicide.com.

Roads to Recovery Hosts “Fall into Recovery” Picnic

Erik Lamoreau, Substance Use Disorder Peer Recovery Center Manager is preparing for a picnic at Roads to Recovery on Thursday, September 17 from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. The event is part of National Recovery Month.

Roads to Recovery (R2R), a service of AMHC, will host a picnic on Thursday, September 17 from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  R2R is located at One Water Street in Caribou and is a place where individuals can come and receive support for their recovery journey, connecting people to resources and also serve as a venue for various recovery meetings.

“We are looking forward to this event,” said Erik Lamoreu, Substance Use Disorder Peer Recovery Center Manager. “The pandemic has changed how we support our recovery community but our team has worked hard to keep people connected and engaged. We will continue to support individuals through in-person and telehealth meetings including SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training), Parents in Recovery, Relationships and Addiction, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Probation and Recovery.”

The event is known as “Fall into Recovery,” and coincides with National Recovery Month, held each September. Community members are welcome and asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. “We will have some individually wrapped snacks to enjoy as well as an opportunity to share more about the services at R2R,” said Lamoreau.  “Narcan training will be provided and kits will be handed out. We will also have fun decorating masks that attendees can take home with them.”

For more information on the activities or resources offered at Roads to Recovery please contact them at 207-493-1278.

Celebrating more than 55 years, AMHC is a nonprofit organization supporting nearly 6,000 clients annually. The agency has 26 service sites and 325 employees located across Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties providing mental health, substance use, crisis, and sexual assault services. For more information, connect with AMHC at www.amhc.org.

Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope Hosts One Year Anniversary Celebration

Chelsea Putnam, Peer Support Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator is preparing for a one-year anniversary celebration on Saturday, September 12 from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH) will host a one-year anniversary celebration on Saturday, September 12 from 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  ARCH is located at 36 North Street in Houlton and is a place where individuals can come and receive support for their recovery journey, connecting people to resources and also serve as a venue for various recovery meetings.

“A great deal has happened since ARCH opened its doors last September,” shared Chelsea Putnam, Peer Support Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator. “Although the pandemic has changed how we support our recovery community we are pleased to continue to be an important resource.”  In the past year, ARCH has supported individuals in their recovery journey through in-person and telehealth meetings including SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training), Parents in Recovery, Relationships and Addiction, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Probation and Recovery.

The anniversary celebration, known as “Fall into Recovery,” coincides with National Recovery Month, held each September. Community members are welcome and asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. “We will have some individually wrapped snacks to enjoy as well as an opportunity to share more about the services at ARCH,” said Putnam.  “Narcan training will be provided and kits will be handed out. We will also have fun decorating masks that attendees can take home with them.”

ARCH is a service of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) in collaboration with Link for Hope. For more information on the activities or resources offered at ARCH, please contact Putnam at 207-254-2213.

AMHC Raises Awareness on Suicide

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and AMHC is encouraging everyone to learn the signs of suicide and not be afraid to ask for help. AMHC is available to anyone experiencing a crisis. To access their Mobile Emergency Services team please call or text the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112

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!

“Due to the pandemic, this year AMHC will be relying heavily on social media to raise awareness about suicide,” explains Michelle Ferris, Director of Emergency Services.  “According to the Maine Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Mainers ages 10-45. 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 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 Thursday, September 10, 2020. The goal of the campaign is to encourage everyone to take 5 simple actions steps that focus on preventing the tragedy of suicide. 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!

By taking 5 minutes to learn about suicide, you will be making a difference in the world!

Creating a Community that Celebrates Recovery

Recovery Aroostook and Roads to Recovery are partnering together to observe International Overdose Awareness Day on Monday, August 31. Luminary bags created in honor of loved ones will be on display at Lyndon Park in Caribou at 8:00 P.M., similar to this remembrance ceremony in 2019.

Recovery Aroostook in partnership with Roads to Recovery, a service of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), are observing International Overdose Awareness Day on Monday, August 31.

“This annual event is a day to remember those who have lost their life to substance use disorder, explained Erik Lamoreau, Substance Use Disorder Peer Recovery Center Manager. “Now through August 31, community members are invited to stop by Roads to Recovery and create a luminary bag in remembrance and recognition of loved ones.”

Other activities on August 31 include Naloxone training and Naloxone distribution at Roads to Recovery. That evening, at 8:00 p.m., the luminary bags will be placed for public view at Lyndon Park, following a moment of silence. “We hope to see many community members supporting the vigil,” shared Keely LeBlanc, Recovery Aroostook.

For more information about International Overdose Awareness Day and local activities, please contact Erik Lamoreau at Roads to Recovery, 1 Water Street, Caribou, by phone at 207-493-1278 or email at elamoreau@amhc.org or Keely LeBlanc, Recovery Aroostook at recoveryaroostook@gmail.com.

About Recovery Aroostook

A grassroots, non-profit organization, which continues to fulfill their mission of: “providing sustainable resources and services to individuals seeking recovery, and anyone impacted by addiction,” by such endeavors as the recent opening of the Caribou Recovery House for Men. Recovery Aroostook is continuously looking to future undertakings, such as opening a Recovery Residence for women.

About Roads to Recovery

A service of AMHC, Roads to Recovery is a place where individuals can come and receive support for their recovery journey, connect people to resources, and also serve as a venue for a variety of recovery meetings. AMHC is a nonprofit organization supporting nearly 6,000 clients annually. The agency has 26 service sites across Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties providing mental health, substance use, crisis, sexual assault services.

Volunteer Drivers Needed to Support Community Members

Theresa Shaw, AMHC Transportation Coordinator for County Ride, is seeking volunteer drivers to support eligible community members who need help with transportation. Drivers receive non-taxable mileage reimbursement for their service. Learn more by contacting Theresa at 207-492-1379.

County Ride, a program of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), is seeking volunteer drivers to provide rides to eligible community members who require transportation to and from needed community resources and social activities.

“The most important qualifications we ask of our volunteer drivers is that they offer a safe, friendly, and respectable atmosphere while providing transportation in a reliable vehicle,” explains Theresa Shaw, AMHC Transportation Coordinator. “This is a perfect way for individuals who have a few hours of spare time each week to help others and make some extra income at the same time.”

Drivers receive income through non-taxable mileage reimbursement. They also have flexibility in the days and times they choose to help individuals like Helen who says, “County Ride is basically a lifesaver for me. I don’t have any other way to get rides and it helps me financially”; or Margaret who shares, “I use County Ride a lot. I very, very much appreciate having County Ride to rely on.”

You may contact Theresa Shaw at 207-492-1379 or by email at tshaw@amhc.org to learn more about how you can make a difference in your community.

AMHC and State of Maine Partner on Information & Referral Line in Washington County

Arlene Ouellette, AMHC Emergency Service Specialist – Mobile Dispatch, is one of several staff members supporting the new 24/7 Information and Referral Line in Washington County. This six-month pilot project is intended to support individuals with substance use disorder.

Pilot Project Established to Save Lives and Support Individuals with Substance Use Disorder

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), is pleased to announce its selection by the State of Maine to pilot an information and referral line in Washington County for those challenged by substance use disorder.

“To put it simply, we are trying to save lives,” explains Michelle Ferris, AMHC Program Director of Emergency Services for Aroostook, Washington and Hancock counties. “Washington County has the highest rate of death due to drug overdose in the State.  By creating a central coordinating telephone system that is staffed 24/7 and available to law enforcement; medical and emergency personnel; public officials; education staff; and other members of the public, we hope to reduce the number of fatal overdoses.”

The pilot project is for six months and staff will connect callers with referral services to counseling, peer services, recovery coaching, and/or other related assistance. The project is intended to coordinate service needs that help bridge any gaps in services needed to support treatment and recovery services for those with substance use disorder. “Individuals can be seeking information about services for themselves or others,” said Ferris.

The phone line is now live and can be reached at 1-833-687-4887 (833-NVR-GVUP) or (207) 454-1999.

AMHC Announces New Program Director

Ellen Bemis, CEO, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) has announced that Julia Miller has joined the AMHC Senior Leadership Team. “We are very pleased to have Julia join us as the Program Director of Prevention and Sexual Assault Services,” said Bemis. “Due to the recent expansion of agency programs, the time was right to add an additional program director. Julia’s experience makes her a great asset to our team and the clients we serve.”

Julia oversees youth prevention and leadership initiatives provided by Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp (ATLC) and in partnership with Maine Youth Action Network. In addition, she manages Sexual Assault Services in Aroostook, Hancock, and Washington Counties, including the Children’s Advocacy Centers, which are committed to minimizing trauma and promoting healing for children and their families following the allegation of sexual abuse.  Julia served the Aroostook Band of Micmacs for 25 years including as Tribal Clerk and most recently as Tribal Administrator. She is a trained advocate in both sexual assault and domestic violence and serves as a board member for the Wabanaki Women’s Coalition, which she helped create in 2012.

AMHC Seeks Community Feedback on Aroostook’s Opioid Epidemic

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) was the recent recipient of a Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) …

AMHC Response to COVID-19

Message from Ellen Bemis, CEO “As the pandemic continues it is normal to experience anxiety. Caring for our physical and …

AMHC Receives 2020 Caring About Lives in Maine Award

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that the AMHC Zero Suicide Leadership Team was selected …