Category: <span>News</span>

St. John Valley Associates Merges with Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc.

St. John Valley Associates (SJVA) and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) are pleased to announce that the two agencies will merge, which will take effect on July 1, 2023. SJVA will retain the same personnel and level of services in the community; AMHC will provide leadership and administrative services.

“The SJVA Board of Directors are focused on continuing the mission of SJVA as set forth by the founders, and in doing so recognized the business requirements to continue to meet the needs of our current and future clients,” explained Thomas Gerard, SJVA President. “Therefore, we sought a merger with a recognized leader in our geographic area that would provide the professional business and administrative background to allow SJVA not only to survive but to grow and prosper. We as an organization look forward to the future and the enhanced benefits that AMHC will provide to our staff, clients, and the community of the greater St. John Valley area.”

“We are very pleased to have SJVA join AMHC,” shared Ellen Bemis, CEO. “In our early discussions, it was clear that our organizational missions, which focus on community integration, align well. AMHC has been a provider of behavioral health services to SJVA clients for many years, and we’re looking forward to bringing our services together.”

About SJVA

Since 1978 St. John Valley Associates has provided a center-based facility offering services to adults with intellectual disabilities. During the past 45 years, the SJVA organization has successfully lived up to the founders’ desire to continue education beyond high school for adults with intellectual disabilities. For more information, visit https://stjohnvalleyassociates.org/.

About AMHC

Celebrating nearly 60 years, AMHC is a nonprofit organization supporting up to 5,000 individuals annually. The agency has 26 service sites and 350 employees across Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties providing mental health, substance use, crisis, and sexual assault services. For more information, please visit AMHC at www.amhc.org.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab Highlights Brain Injury Services in Aroostook County

Center for Integrated Neuro-Rehab (CINR), a program of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to highlight Brain Injury Awareness Month during the month of March.

“We hope this month is a great opportunity for the community to learn more about brain injury services available here in Aroostook County,” shared Pamela Searles, OTR/L,CBIS, Neuro-Rehabilitation Services Manager. “Last year, CINR celebrated its 15th anniversary of supporting individuals with traumatic brain injury.”

Since opening in 2007, CINR has supported hundreds of individuals and their loved ones. Fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), CINR is currently accepting new clients. Services are available in Caribou and Houlton.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are more common than many people think. Brain injuries are most often sustained through falls, as well as strokes, and motor vehicle accidents. In Maine alone, on average every week, there are nearly 200 TBI-related hospital emergency department visits.

CINR works with individuals to assist them with gaining more skills in the areas of physical function, language/cognition, social/emotional wellbeing, and more independence with life skills.  It is important that the community knows there is hope and help in overcoming the challenges associated with traumatic brain injury. For information, eligibility requirements, and to make referrals, CINR staff can be reached at 207-498-3820.

AMHC Welcomes Julia Macek to Senior Leadership

Ellen Bemis, CEO of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), has announced that Julia Macek, LCSW, has joined the agency as Program Director of Behavioral Health and Integration in Aroostook County. The position was previously held by Lorraine Chamberlain, LCSW, CCS, who retired in November 2022.

“I am pleased to welcome Julia to the senior leadership team,” said Bemis. “As Program Director, she will oversee a variety of substance use and mental health programs and services for adults, children, and families and lead in new program development, enhancement, and implementation.”

Macek has more than 30 years of behavioral health experience in hospitals, residential treatment, outpatient mental health, and, most recently, in early care and education. She is a certified poverty coach, president of the board for Healthy Maine Families, and co-chair of the Aroostook Community Collaborative. Macek lives in Wade with her husband, David.

Link for Hope Presents Check to Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope

(l to r) Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope staff members Stacie Lamoreau and Gregg Spelta receive a check from Trudy Rairdon and Mary Howland, Link for Hope Community Coalition members.

During Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope’s (ARCH) grand reopening on Saturday, October 22, 2022, Link for Hope presented ARCH with a check for $3,835. The funds have been set aside to support the needs of ARCH, including helping individuals that may need financial assistance to purchase resource materials for programs provided at the center.

“The Link for Hope Coalition is a community-based coalition whose vision and purpose is to promote the health, safety, and quality of life for all youth, families, and communities in Southern Aroostook,” said Trudy Rairdon, co-chair. “Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Southern Aroostook by reducing problems related to alcohol and other drug use and teen suicide.”

After holding a public viewing of the documentary, The Anonymous People, the Link for Hope Coalition held focus groups to determine what the greater Houlton area community considered was a need to strengthen and empower people combating substance use disorder. It was a unanimous consensus that a recovery center would be extremely important for individuals. Shortly after that, Link for Hope was approached by AMHC to partner with the agency on a grant to open recovery centers in Aroostook County.

“Thanks to the tremendous support of the members of the coalition and the people in the greater Houlton area, Link for Hope raised money for ARCH,” explained Rairdon. “We are grateful for the generosity of our community members who have helped this center become a reality.”

Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH) is located at 106 Main Street, Houlton. Located across the street from the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce/The Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum, ARCH is a place where individuals can come and receive support for their recovery journey, connecting people to resources and serving as a venue for various recovery meetings. ARCH is open to everyone, including people in recovery, people struggling with substance/alcohol/opioid use disorder(s), affected others, allies, and community members.

ARCH is open on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and on some weeknights and weekends. For more information about the center, recovery groups, and more, please contact Spelta by email at gspelta@amhc.org or by phone at 207-254-2213. ARCH is a program of AMHC. For more information about agency services, please visit www.amhc.org.

Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope Grand Re-Opening

Gregg Spelta, ARCH Volunteer Coordinator, and Stacie Lamoreau, AMHC Peer Recovery Center Manager, prepare for the grand re-opening of Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope, 106 Main Street, Houlton.

Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH) is pleased to announce the center has moved to 106 Main Street in downtown Houlton. The Grand Re-Opening will be held Saturday, October 22, 2022 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. with coffee, refreshments, and door prizes. All visitors are welcome.

Located across the street from the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce/The Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum, ARCH is where individuals can come and receive support for their recovery journey, connecting people to resources and serving as a venue for various recovery meetings.

“We are excited about our move,” shared Gregg Spelta, Volunteer Coordinator and Peer Support Specialist. “The larger location is ideal for more individuals to seek our services. It’s also within walking distance of many other amenities that Houlton has to offer.” ARCH is open to everyone, including people in recovery, people struggling with substance/alcohol/opioid use disorder(s), affected others, allies, and community members. ARCH is a service of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) in partnership with Link for Hope. The center is open on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and on some weeknights and weekends. For more information about ARCH services, recovery groups, and more, please contact Spelta by email at gspelta@amhc.org or by phone at 254-2213.

Celebrating more than 57 years, AMHC is a nonprofit organization supporting nearly 5,500 clients annually. The agency has 26 service sites and 325 employees across Aroostook, Hancock, and Washington counties providing mental health, substance use, crisis, and sexual assault services. For more information, connect with AMHC at www.amhc.org.

AMHC Highlights Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) encourages everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts and what to do and not do in response to helping a loved one.

“According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, one person died by suicide every 32 hours in the State of Maine in 2020,” explains Sarah Wright, Director of Crisis Services. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and the fourth leading cause of death for ages 35-54.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says the following warning signs could signal that someone is experiencing suicidal ideation (thoughts about suicide):

  • Comments like “I wish I weren’t here” or “Nothing matters”
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

NAMI offers this advice: If your friend or family member struggles with suicidal ideation day-to-day, let them know that they can talk with you about what they are going through. Make sure that you adopt an open and compassionate mindset when they are talking. Instead of “arguing” or trying to disprove any negative statements they make (“Your life is not that bad!”), try active listening techniques such as reflecting on their feelings and summarizing their thoughts. This can help your loved one feel heard and validated.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, AMHC is available to anyone in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties. To access AMHC’s Mobile Crisis Services team, please call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112.

MECASA Recognizes Wendy Page with Advancing the Mission Award

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) announced the recipients of the 2022 MECASA Awards – given annually to people and organizations whose work has had a significant statewide impact on the services and policies that support survivors of sexual violence in Maine.

“We’re very pleased that Wendy Page, AMHC Sexual Assault Services Coordinator, was among several recipients statewide who received the Advancing the Mission Award,” shared Julia Miller, AMHC Program Director for Prevention and Sexual Assault Services. The award is given to one or more individuals employed by a MECASA member center or member centers ‘who demonstrate an extraordinary and unwavering commitment to advancing the statewide mission of MECASA.’

“Wendy participated with other MECASA members in developing and implementing a statewide, standardized advocate training and a facilitator’s guide and updated advocate manual,” said Miller. “The materials took more than two years to finalize. We’re grateful to Wendy and the entire team for their efforts.”

The annual MECASA Awards are presented each April in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time when sexual assault providers around Maine raise awareness about the impacts of sexual violence on our communities and the services available to survivors. One in five people in Maine will experience sexual violence at some point in their lives.

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 Highlights Mental Health Month in May

AMHC Highlights Mental Health Month in May.

May is Mental Health Month, and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to join Mental Health America in highlighting its “Back to Basics” campaign.

“The past few years have highlighted how important mental health is to overall well-being,” said Ellen Bemis, CEO. “Part of AMHC’s mission is to reduce the stigma associated with mental health. Our agency encourages all community members to know the resources available to support you or a family member in a time of need.”

There is no single cause for a mental health condition; many possible risk factors can influence how likely a person is to experience a mental health condition or how severe the symptoms may be. Mental Health America has a screening tool at https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/ which may assist an individual to better understand what one is experiencing; after that, it is important to talk to a trusted friend, family member, teacher, etc. about the results, and as appropriate seek professional help.

AMHC encourages anyone who is struggling to reach out to the 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 more resources, including AMHC services county-wide, please visit www.amhc.org or call the AMHC Call Center at 1-800-244-6431.

AMHC Welcomes Shannon Gove to Senior Leadership

AMHC Welcomes Shannon Gove as Program Director of Residential/Crisis Units in Washington County.

Ellen Bemis, CEO, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), has announced the appointment of Shannon Gove, LSW, MHRT-C, OQMHP, to Program Director of Residential/Crisis Units in Washington County.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Shannon to the senior leadership team,” said Bemis. “As Program Director, she will oversee the residential programs in Calais, including children’s residential and both the children and adult crisis stabilization units. Throughout her eight years with the agency Shannon has demonstrated strong leadership and a passion for delivering excellent services to our clients. I look forward to working with her in this expanded capacity.”

Gove joined AMHC in 2014 as a Targeted Case Manager/Outpatient Site Coordinator in Calais. In 2019, she was appointed the Children’s Services Manager for Washington and Hancock counties. Gove received her Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science from the University of Maine Machias. She lives with her family in Dennysville.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Penny Thompson, Caribou City Manager, delivered a Brain Injury Awareness Day Proclamation on March 16, 2022 to AMHC’s Center for Integrated Neuro-Rehab. Accepting the proclamation was (l to r): Reagan White, Pam Searles, Thompson, Benjamin White and Betty Hendricksen.

Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab Highlights Brain Injury Services in Aroostook County

Center for Integrated Neuro-Rehab (CINR), a program of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to highlight Brain Injury Awareness Month during the month of March. Penny Thompson, Caribou City Manager, delivered a Brain Injury Awareness Day Proclamation designating March 16, 2022 as Brain Injury Awareness Day.

“We’re very grateful to the City of Caribou for joining us in highlighting Brain Injury Awareness Month,” shared Pamela Searles, OTR/L,CBIS, Neuro-Rehabilitation Services Manager. “Our clients enjoyed sharing their artwork with Penny and sharing their stories of recovery. We hope this month has been a great opportunity for the community to learn more about brain injury prevalence in Aroostook County.”

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are more common than many people think. In Maine alone, on average every week, there are nearly 200 TBI-related hospital emergency department visits. CINR works with individuals to assist them with gaining more skills in the areas of physical function, language/cognition, social/emotional wellbeing, and more independence with life skills. It is important that the community knows there is hope and help in overcoming the challenges associated with traumatic brain injury.

Brain injuries are most commonly sustained through falls, as well as strokes, and motor vehicle accidents. Since 2007, CINR has supported hundreds of individuals and their loved ones. Fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), CINR is currently accepting client referrals. Services are available in Caribou and Houlton; please contact them at 207-498-3820 for more information and/or eligibility requirements.

Celebrating more than 57 years, AMHC is a nonprofit organization supporting nearly 5,500 clients annually. The agency has 26 service sites and 325 employees located across Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties. In addition to brain injury services in Aroostook, AMHC provides mental health, substance use, crisis, and sexual assault services in its three county service area. For more information, connect with AMHC at www.amhc.org.

AMHC Seeks Community Input on Substance Use in Aroostook County

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is asking community members to participate in a survey that will help the agency …

AMHC Relocates Ellsworth Outpatient and Downeast Treatment Center to 70 Kingsland Crossing

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that it is relocating to 70 Kingsland Crossing, Ellsworth, …

AMHC Call Center Move Complete

The Call Center lines have re-opened. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience.