Category: <span>News</span>

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.

Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab Now Offering Services in Southern Aroostook

Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab (CINR), a program of AMHC, is now offering services in Houlton. The CINR team, including Pam Searles, Neuro-Rehabilitation Services Manager, is meeting with clients on Thursdays at AMHC’s Houlton Outpatient Office at 11 Mill Street.

Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab (CINR), a program of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), is pleased to announce that it now offers services in Houlton as well as Caribou.

“Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are more common than many people think,” explained Pamela Searles, OTR/L,CBIS, Neuro-Rehabilitation Services Manager. “In Maine alone, on average every week, there are nearly 200 TBI-related hospital emergency department visits. At CINR, we work 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. We want people to know that there is hope and help in overcoming the challenges associated with traumatic brain injury.”

Until recently, all CINR services have been offered at its facility located at 159 Bennett Drive in Caribou. Recognizing the transportation challenges for clients living in southern Aroostook, treatment is now offered at AMHC’s Houlton Outpatient Office at 11 Mill Street on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

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. They address intellectual, emotional, and social functioning deficits to increase a brain injury survivor’s maximum recovery. Services may include psychological services, group therapy, family support groups, physical, occupational, and speech therapy as well as community reintegration.

Fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CINR is currently accepting client referrals. Please contact them at 207-498-3820 for more information and/or to learn more about eligibility requirements.

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, sexual assault services, and brain injury services (Aroostook County). For more information, connect with AMHC at www.amhc.org.

AMHC Successfully Uses Telemedicine during COVID-19

Dr. Thayanne Delima-Tokarz, DO has been providing telepsychiatry for Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) patients in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties. Iris Telehealth works with psychiatrists including Dr. Delmia-Tokarz to provide services to residents in rural areas who may not otherwise have access to the services they need. Iris Telehealth recently asked AMHC for information on its best practices to share with other providers across the nation.

Community health clinics across the United States report a 43% drop in the number of client visits during the quarantine. However, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) has ramped up the use of technology during the COVID-19 pandemic and increased the number of client visits by 20%.

In a recent article, the chief psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente stated that over 90% of mental health visits in the U.S. are now happening virtually, which is a change for many practices.

However, AMHC was already an early adopter of telehealth and they were able to quickly expand their existing practice. While continuing to offer in-clinic appointments, telepsychiatry offers mental health services directly to the client through HIPAA-compliant video conferencing or telephone calls.

AMHC recognized the potential of telepsychiatry to solve mental health challenges years ago and found it ideally suited to serve the people of Aroostook, Hancock, and Washington counties in Northern and Downeast Maine. Telepsychiatry helps solve a critical shortage of psychiatric providers, especially in rural areas. Half of the counties in the U.S. do not have even one psychiatrist and it is estimated that 111 million people live in a mental health shortage area. Using technology, a provider can see clients anywhere there is a viable internet connection.

AMHC partners with Iris Telehealth, a telepsychiatry group, to provide psychiatrists. This has allowed AMHC to provide medication management services for adults and children. “It’s been an honor to work alongside AMHC over the past 3 years,” said Dr. Tarik Shaheen, CEO at Iris Telehealth. “Their deep commitment to patient care and the ability to adapt quickly during COVID-19 sets a wonderful example for other community health organizations in the northeast and the rest of the U.S.”

Recent events have encouraged many clients who previously came to AMHC in-person to use telehealth services. The clinics provide psychiatric evaluations, teletherapy—individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy—client education, and medication management, directly to the client who remains at home.

“AMHC appreciates its partnership with Iris Telehealth to provide psychiatrists for our clients who require medication management services,” said Ellen Bemis, AMHC CEO. “It can be a challenge to recruit psychiatrists to rural areas such as ours. By offering the service remotely we help ensure our community members receive the support they need. Iris Telehealth has been an important part of our ability to adapt quickly to the changes that occurred with the pandemic.”

Many clients, particularly the elderly and those at high-risk, appreciate the convenience of seeing their provider from the comfort of home. Providers report there are fewer cancellations now that travel is not required.

In a recent survey, 45% of respondents said events related to the coronavirus have affected their mental health. In response to the need for increased services, AMHC added 80 new Zoom accounts to boost their virtual service capacity and provide same-day access when needed.

report from Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, suggests that stress from COVID-19 may cause increased ‘diseases of despair’, including suicides and addiction. AMHC believes these issues are treatable and telepsychiatry can connect people with the care they need.

To connect with AMHC, please call their Access Center at 1-800-244-6431 or visit them on the web at https://www.amhc.org or https://www.facebook.com/AMHC1964/.

About AMHC

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, sexual assault services, and brain injury services (Aroostook County). For more information, connect with AMHC at www.amhc.org.

About Iris Telehealth

Iris Telehealth’s mission is to help patients, providers, and healthcare organizations achieve their goals through clinically sound and financially sustainable psychiatry programs. With our clinical grounding and emphasis on human relationships, we identify best-fit providers for each unique organization and ensure a long-term commitment to meeting our partner’s needs, allowing them to provide the highest quality care to their patients and community. For more information, please visit iristelehealth.com.

AMHC Stands with Black Lives Matter

In the midst of a public health and social crisis, AMHC reaffirms our respect for mankind. Nearly 250 years after “all men are created equal” was first penned in the Declaration of Independence, we are still working to create a society that embraces those words. During these difficult days, AMHC joins others across the country and around the world to acknowledge those who are oppressed, discriminated against, treated unjustly, treated inhumanely, abused psychologically and/or physically, and worse. We do not tolerate racism. We share in the responsibility to end discrimination and the negative effects of stigma in all forms.

AMHC’s core values include integrity and respect. We believe in treating everyone consistently by the same set of sound, moral, and ethical principles and hold in high regard every individual’s rights, responsibilities, and abilities.  We believe that having compassion for all and seeking to fully understand one another is an important step in improving the well-being of our society, and to inspire the hope and healing we desperately need right now.

AMHC Peer Centers Announce Re-Opening to Public

AMHC Peer Centers in Aroostook County have announced their reopening dates:

  • Roads to Recovery (R2R) in Caribou and Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH) in Houlton will reopen their doors on Monday, June 15, 2020;
  • DownEast Recovery Support Centers in Calais and Machias will also reopen on Monday, June 15, 2020;
  • Valley Peer Center in Madawaska and Harvest Inn in Caribou will reopen to the public on Monday, June 22, 2020.

“Our teams are very excited to welcome back members of the community,” shared  Christine Brown, AMHC Program Director of Community Integration. “As mental health and substance use peer support specialists they have done a great job doing virtual outreach to their communities but are looking forward to engaging face to face once again.”

Each center will follow these general guidelines, but please be sure to check with each center for any variances:

  • Visitors will be limited;
  • Staff and visitors must adhere to physical distancing of six feet;
  • Staff and visitors will be asked to wear a mask if they are unable to maintain six feet of physical distancing;
  • Other precautions will be attended to, such as hand sanitizers and screening questions prior to coming to the centers;
  • Please do not go to the centers if you are not feeling physically well.

Roads to Recovery, Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope, and DownEast Recovery Support 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.

Valley Peer Center and Harvest Inn Peer Center offer persons with mental health challenges the experience of giving and receiving peer supports in moving towards self-discovery. Peer-to-peer supports to empower individuals to address personal priorities and to grow their sense of self and purpose.

For more information, please contact the peer centers:

AMHC’s Residential Treatment Facility Celebrates 45 Years of Service

AMHC’s Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) is celebrating its 45th anniversary. RTF is Maine’s only 28-day substance use treatment facility that serves both men and women. Affectionately known as “The Farm” the RTF is located in Limestone, Maine. Staff members are planning special activities throughout the anniversary year including (l to r) Stacie Holton, Rebecca Fournier, Gabriel Brown, and Keith Trudel.

Residents learn about growth in recovery through gardening

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is proud to highlight the 45th anniversary of its Residential Treatment Facility (RTF), commonly referred to as “The Farm.”

“We are very proud to reach this milestone anniversary,” said Rebecca Fournier, RTF Site Coordinator. “RTF is special for many reasons including our tightly woven group of staff members. We work very hard to make our clients feel comfortable, safe, and hopeful. We want them to know they are not alone in their recovery journey.”

During this anniversary year, residents will be involved in a gardening project. “The idea is that residents will have a chance to be invested in a task that correlates to growth in recovery,” explains Fournier. “For example, our current residents are planting seeds and providing what the seeds need to grow. The care they provide helps them understand that they also need support such as personal care and surrounding themselves with others who provide light in their world. By being intentional, they will see themselves grow.”

Depending on when they arrive, each resident will have a different experience during the growing season. Some residents will plant the seeds outside and then need to weed the garden on a regular basis. In recovery, it is important to pull or “weed” out all the negative messages, characteristics, and behaviors that can take over one’s mind. Other residents will harvest the plants and reap the benefits of all the work. Not all residents will see the fruits of their labor. Similarly, in recovery, we may interact with a person and never know how much of an impact we have had on their life.

Opened in 1975, RTF is the only 28-day substance use treatment facility in the State of Maine that serves both men and women ages 18 and older. RTF is ADA accessible and serves up to 150 individuals per year. During its history, RTF has supported thousands of individuals in their recovery journey.

AMHC and Healthy You Highlight Mental Health Awareness Month

Healthy You is hosting an AMHC Community Chat video series during Mental Health Awareness Month in May. A wide variety of mental health topics will be covered and available on the Healthy You YouTube channel at carymedicalcenter.org/healthyyou and through Healthy You and AMHC social media. Bethany Zell, CWHC, Healthy You Program Director, interviews Erik Lamoreau, AMHC Substance Use Peer Recovery Center Manager about the resources available to those in recovery.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to participate in a series of community conversations with Healthy You, a program of Cary Medical Center in Caribou, Maine. A wide variety of mental health topics will be addressed including segments focused on children, teens, seniors, pet therapy, suicide prevention, and individuals in recovery from substance use.

“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. We are grateful to have this opportunity to partner with Healthy You to raise awareness regarding the many tools and resources that are available to help people during this time.”

“When I planned our monthly Healthy You themes for 2020 back in December of last year, I had no idea how timely Mental Health Awareness Month information – and the choice to help amplify that message – would be once May rolled around,” shared Healthy You Program Director, Bethany Zell, CWHC. “I am thankful for the wealth of resources and information available from our community partners at AMHC and for their eagerness to participate in these discussions. In this time of physical distancing, it is imperative that people remain connected with tools and resources needed to address the mental health impacts we are experiencing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am honored that Healthy You could facilitate getting this information out to our communities through the AMHC Community Chat video series.”

The AMHC Community Chats with Healthy You will continue to roll out through the remainder of Mental Health Awareness Month in May and released videos can be viewed on the Healthy You YouTube channel located at carymedicalcenter.org/healthyyou.

Healthy You, a community health and wellness program of Cary Medical Center, delivers programs and information on a monthly health and wellness theme. Through videos, social media, and interactive, community-based programs, we provide our communities with the tools and resources needed to make positive advancements in all aspects of their lives including their social, physical, emotional, occupational, intellectual, spiritual, and environmental health and wellness. For current event listings or to connect with Healthy You, please visit facebook.com/caryhealthyyou.

AMHC Peer Recovery Centers Hosting Public Events throughout Aroostook

Roads to Recovery (R2R) and Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH), substance use peer recovery service providers, are hosting several public events in May. Part of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), the recovery centers provide individuals a place to come and receive support for their recovery journey, connect people to resources, and also serve as a venue for a variety of recovery meetings.

“COVID-19 has been very difficult for our recovery community,” shared Erik Lamoreau, Substance Use Disorder Peer Recovery Center Manager. “We are grateful for the technology that allows us to stay connected but we are excited to do some public events that will allow us to touch base in person, with proper social distancing, of course.”

The public is invited to stop by and learn more about peer recovery centers and all the services AMHC offers the recovery community. Free Naloxone kits will also be distributed. “We will offer Naloxone training during the event or if individuals prefer, they can learn about properly administering naloxone from the information provided in their kit,” said Lamoreau.  For more information, please contact R2R at 207-493-1278 or ARCH at 207-254-2213.

The events will be held at the following locations and times during the month of May:

  • Mondays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., AMHC Fort Kent Outpatient Office, 104 East Main Street
  • Mondays, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., AMHC Madawaska Outpatient Office, 88 Fox Street
  • Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Old Irving parking lot, 83 Main Street, Van Buren
  • Tuesdays, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Riverside Park Pavilion, 49 Limestone Road, Fort Fairfield
  • Wednesdays and Fridays, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Center for Integrated Neuro-Rehab, 159 Bennett Drive, Caribou
  • Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., AMHC ACSU, 162 Main Street, Presque Isle
  • Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., AMHC Presque Isle Outpatient Office, 1 Edgemont Drive
  • Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope, 36 North Street, Houlton
  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Aroostook County Jail parking lot, 15 Broadway, Houlton

R2R and ARCH are pleased to partner with Maine Access Points, a mutual aid organization providing syringe access services, overdose prevention education, and naloxone distribution, peer support, and advocacy throughout rural Maine. For more information please visit https://www.maineaccesspoints.org/.

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Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope Hosts Virtual Recovery Support Group

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