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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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/.
Ellen Bemis, CEO, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), has announced the promotion of Brittany Ballard to Director of Human Resources. Brittany’s new role includes joining AMHC’s Senior Leadership Team. “We are very pleased to have Brittany accept this promotion,” said Bemis. “As we continue to expand programming across our region, her addition to the senior leadership team helps ensure the infrastructure is in place to serve our staff and clients well.”
Ballard joined AMHC in 2008. She has been part of the human resources team for seven years, serving the last five as HR Manager. Before that, she worked as a crisis counselor in Emergency Services. Ballard is an active member of the Society of Human Resources Management. She resides in Caribou with her family.
Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab (CINR), a program of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC), is pleased to announce that it has been reissued a three-year accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
“In their letter, CARF shared that our ability to achieve their highest level of accreditation is an indication of our organization’s dedication and commitment to improving the quality of the lives of the individuals we serve,” said Christine Brown, LCSW, CCS, AMHC Program Director of Community Integration. “We are proud of our staff who work each day to improve the lives of those diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.”
CARF is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services. Through accreditation, CARF assists service providers in improving their services, demonstrating value, and meeting internationally recognized organizational and program standards. Accreditation is an on-going process, establishing a provider’s commitment to enhance its performance, manage its risk, and distinguish its service delivery.
CINR first became CARF accredited in 2008. This is the fifth time the program has gone through the process. “Continuous process improvement is critical to the success of our program,” explained Brown.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) 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, speech therapy, and community reintegration.
Traumatic brain injuries are more common than many people think. On average weekly in Maine, there are nearly 200 TBI-related hospital emergency department visits. CINR works with individuals to help them gain more physical function skills, language/cognition, social/emotional well-being, and more independence with life skills. There is hope and help in overcoming the challenges associated with traumatic brain injury.
CINR services are offered at its facility at 159 Bennett Drive in Caribou and AMHC’s Houlton Outpatient Office at 11 Mill Street. CINR is currently accepting client referrals. Please contact them at 207-498-3820 for more information or to learn more about eligibility requirements.
Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that the agency has acquired the property at 180 Academy Street in Presque Isle. Previously known as Prasanna Suites, the former medical facility will house AMHC’s Presque Isle Outpatient Office, administrative services, and by early spring, 2021 an expanded adult crisis stabilization unit (ACSU).
“This is an exciting time for AMHC,” shared Ellen Bemis, CEO. “For several years, the agency has been searching for a suitable property to expand our adult crisis stabilization services. When this property became available, our board of directors saw the potential to bring a number of services under one roof.”
Situated along Presque Isle’s “healthcare corridor,” the property is near Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital and numerous other healthcare providers. “By bringing a number of services together, we make it possible for community members to more easily access the care they need,” said Bemis.
As of Monday, January 18, AMHC’s Presque Isle Outpatient and administrative staff will deliver services from 180 Academy Street. The Adult Crisis Stabilization Unit (ACSU) services will remain open at its current location at 162 Main Street. The opening of the new, expanded ACSU will be announced in March 2021.
Providing support to individuals for stressors related to COVID-19
Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to be the local provider for StrengthenME in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties. StrengthenME is Maine’s behavioral health and resiliency response to COVID-19, providing free stress management, wellness, and resiliency resources.
“For individuals struggling with the stress of the pandemic, StrengthenME is here to support you,” explains Michelle Ferris, Program Director of Emergency Services. “Community health workers are here to listen, provide ideas for you to consider, and help you connect with community resources. We also encourage providers and other professionals to call for support as well, either for themselves or those they assist in a professional capacity.”
COVID-19 has changed things. Work is different. School is different. Home is different. Life is different, and that can be hard. The toll COVID-19 has taken on individuals, families, and communities is real.
StrengthenME offers stress management tools, emotional support resources, and program and community connections that promote wellness, resilience, empowerment, and recovery. StrengthenME is free, confidential, anonymous, and available to anyone in Maine.
Community health workers are available from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. by contacting the statewide support number at 207-221-8198 or 866-367-4588. Residents of Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties also have the option to connect through a local number at 207-762-4851.
Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH) is now hosting a virtual Recovery Support Group every Friday from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. ARCH 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.
“This support group is open to everyone including people in recovery, people struggling with substance/alcohol/opioid use disorder(s), affected others, allies, and community members,” said Chelsea Putnam, Peer Support Specialist, and Volunteer Coordinator. “I am excited about the participation we’ve had so far. I think this group will help many individuals find their path to recovery.”
Each week a special guest will be invited to the meeting to share their story and provide information. Guests will include peer support specialists, recovery coaches, community program leaders, recovery specialists, people in recovery, volunteers, advocates, etc. “We can learn a lot from each other,” shared Putnam. “This is a great way for people in our community to interact with one another from the comfort of their home, especially important as we head into the winter season and for those who may have transportation challenges.”
Located at 36 North Street in Houlton, ARCH is a service of Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) in collaboration with Link for Hope. To receive a link to the Recovery Support Group meeting or for more information about ARCH services please contact Putnam by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 254-2213.