Category: <span>News</span>

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.

Senator Collins Visits Aroostook Mental Health Center

U.S. Senator Susan Collins visited Aroostook Mental Health Center (AMHC) to tour the newly renovated Adult Crisis Stabilization Unit (ACSU) and meet with leadership, including AMHC CEO Ellen Bemis. During the visit, Senator Collins also joined the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Planning Consortium Meeting.

“For nearly 60 years, the staff at Aroostook Mental Health Center have been dedicated to improving the health of rural and underserved communities. The newly renovated Adult Crisis Stabilization Unit will allow individuals with mental health disorders to continue to receive care close to home in a state-of-the-art facility. In addition, AMHC’s leadership in establishing a consortium of law enforcement and local health care providers will be life changing for the thousands of Mainers struggling with addiction,” said Senator Collins. “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to support funding for federal programs such as RCORP that provide community health organizations with the resources they need to expand treatment and prevention programs.”

Last year, Senator Collins announced that AMHC had been awarded a $200,000 grant through RCORP. With this federal funding, AMHC created the Aroostook Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (ACORP). The consortium includes Aroostook Mental Health Services, Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, Cary Medical Center, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital, Houlton Regional Hospital, Northern Maine Medical Center, and a person in recovery.

In 2020, AMHC purchased the former Prasanna Building in Presque Isle. Following six months of renovations, the agency relocated the AMHC Presque Isle Outpatient Services Office, the ACSU, and administrative staff to the new building. The new building has allowed an increase from five to eight beds and currently provides the only crisis beds for residents of Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Jeannette Phillips, AMHC Sexual Assault Client Advocate, participates in Teal Tuesday. Each Tuesday in April, the community is encouraged to wear teal to highlight Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services joins the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) to highlight April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “We Can Build Safe Online Spaces” encourages each of us to learn how to practice consent online, keep kids safe from abuse, and facilitate and participate in respectful online communities.

“We all have a role to play in the prevention of sexual assault,” shared Julia Miller, Program Director of Prevention and Sexual Assault Services. “AMHC Sexual Assault Services has provided services to individuals who have been affected by sexual violence since 1984. We not only advocate for victims and offer support to survivors 24/7, we provide prevention education for all ages on sexual violence, sexual harassment, internet safety, and personal body safety.”

Learn more about this year’s theme “We Can Build Safe Online Spaces” by visiting https://www.nsvrc.org/saam/2021/about/wecanbuildcampaign

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 are 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 in Presque Isle

(l to r) Michelle Ferris, LCSW, Program Director of Emergency Services and Christine Wall, LCSW, Therapist-Consultant, welcome clients to the expanded adult crisis stabilization unit (ACSU) in Presque Isle. The new location opened on March 25, 2021.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that it has opened an expanded adult crisis stabilization unit (ACSU) at 180 Academy Street in Presque Isle. The ACSU joins AMHC’s Presque Isle Outpatient and administrative offices at its property situated along Presque Isle’s “healthcare corridor,” near Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital and numerous other healthcare providers.

“The expansion provides an opportunity to increase the number of clients served by 60%,” explained Michelle Ferris, LCSW, Program Director of Emergency Services. “We anticipate reaching full occupancy as additional staff is hired to support the increase in capacity.”

Due to demand for services, the former ACSU was occupied nearly 100% of the time. The new space offers eight private rooms with sinks, three bathrooms, and the facility is entirely handicap accessible. In addition to the expanded bed capacity, clients will have private space to visit with family, friends, or other supports. The open floor plan provides a larger kitchen, dining, and living room spaces.

“By bringing outpatient and ACSU services under one roof, we make it possible for community members to more easily access the care they need,” said Ferris.

AMHC Response to COVID-19

Pandemic fatigue is affecting each one of us. During this time it is normal to experience anxiety, frustration, and grief. While we wait for life to have a sense of normalcy again, caring for our physical and mental health is critically important. 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

AMHC Releases 2020 Community Needs Assessment

Focus on Substance Use/Opioid Epidemic in Aroostook

In September 2020, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) was the 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.

“The first step in our 18-month planning grant was to develop a community needs assessment,” explained Erik Lamoreau, Project Coordinator. “Our goal was to hear from as many individuals as possible from northern, central, and southern Aroostook about what is working and not working, as we address the opioid crisis in our communities.”

A six-month effort has resulted in the 2020 Community Needs Assessment. “It is fitting that we release the document during National Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week,” said Lamoreau. “It is an important effort that outlines existing services, gaps in service and more importantly where we should focus our attention in supporting evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery programs for Aroostook County.”

The agency is supported by the following Consortium members: Northern Maine Medical Center, Cary Medical Center, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, Houlton Regional Hospital, and the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, feedback was provided by a variety of stakeholders, including members from the recovery community, the Emergency Management System, representatives of at-risk populations, and community and nonprofit leaders.

The 2020 Community Needs Assessment is posted at amhc.org/publications. For more information or to request an electronic copy, 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 Receives COVID-19 Funding from Maine Community Foundation

Maria Dubois, AMHC Mobile Emergency Services Specialist, dons her PPE as she provides services at a local hospital. Full PPE was a requirement for several months. Foundations like Maine Community Foundation helped support the purchase of equipment and supplies.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) has received a total of $15,000 from the Maine Community Foundation’s (MCF) COVID-19 Emergency Response Funds. “The donations received by the Maine Community Foundation in the past year have helped our agency purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and more,” said Ellen Bemis, CEO.

Maine Community Foundation has alleviated some of the financial pressure AMHC has experienced due to the pandemic. “Their support has helped us to continue our mission to deliver behavioral health services to individuals and families in our service area,” shared Bemis. “We are grateful.”

About Maine Community Foundation

Headquartered in Ellsworth, with additional personnel in Portland, Dover-Foxcroft, 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.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services Partnership Creates Virtual Statewide Support Group

Clockwise, top left: Wendy Page, AMHC Sexual Assault Services, Eliza Burwell, Sexual Assault Services of Southern Maine, and Rochelle Black, Rape and Response Services, have partnered together to offer a virtual statewide support group for survivors of sexual violence. Individuals can learn more by calling or texting the Sexual Assault Services 24/7 helpline at 1-800-871-7741.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services (AMHC SAS), Rape and Response Services (RRS), and Sexual Assault Services of Southern Maine (SARSSM) have partnered together to create a virtual statewide support group.

“The support group is open to all survivors of sexual violence,” explained Julia Miller, AMHC Program Director of Prevention and Sexual Assault Services. “The pandemic has created new opportunities to partner in virtual meetings. We are pleased we can work with RRS and SARSSM to offer this.”

“We all have a role to play in the prevention of sexual assault,” shared Miller. “AMHC Sexual Assault Services has provided services to individuals who have been affected by sexual violence since 1984. We not only advocate for victims and offer support to survivors 24/7. We provide prevention education for all ages on sexual violence, sexual harassment, internet safety, and personal body safety.”

To learn more about services, including the virtual support group, individuals can call the Sexual Assault Services 24/7 helpline at 1-800-871-7741.

About Rape and Response Services
The mission of Rape and Response Services is to offer hope, support, and advocacy to victims and people affected by sexual assault and stalking, to provide education about sexual violence, and to promote prevention.

About Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine
Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine provides free services in York and Cumberland counties to anyone affected by sexual assault, sexual harassment, or sexual abuse through prevention programs, support, education, and advocacy. Services have been provided since 1973.

About AMHC Sexual Assault Services
AMHC Sexual Assault Services Advocates can be reached by calling the 24-hour Sexual Assault Helpline at 1-800-871-7741. Text and chat are also available Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Calls, texts, and chats are free and confidential. For more information, visit AMHC Sexual Assault Services at https://www.amhcsas.org/.

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 …

Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp 2021 Registration Now Open

Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp (ATLC) is a year-round leadership development and drug prevention program for teens. A part …

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

Ellen Bemis, CEO, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce Laurie Deerfield, D.O., has joined …