Category: <span>News</span>

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 Response to COVID-19

Message from Ellen Bemis, CEO

“Some individuals are finding this is the first time they are experiencing a need for professional mental health assistance. AMHC is here for you. For a confidential appointment by telephone or tele-video (Zoom) please contact our Access Center at 1-800-244-6431.”

Most AMHC services remain open.

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 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/.

Downeast Treatment Center Offers Virtual Services to Support Opioid Recovery

As a result of new virtual services, same-day access to anyone with opioid use disorder (OUD) who wishes to begin medication assisted treatment (MAT) is now available to anyone across Washington and Hancock counties. In response to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, the Downeast Treatment Center (DTC) in Ellsworth has begun offering immediate, virtual, rapid access to MAT for all in the Downeast region.

“People in active use are finding it harder to access opioids during this time and some are experiencing opioid withdrawal,” says Clem Deveau, Program Director at Aroostook Mental Health Center. “As a result, individuals struggling with addiction may be more readily drawn to seek recovery support services. We want to be readily available to provide needed support.  When they’re ready, treatment and support must be ready; therefore, we have expanded our virtual capacity to welcome all new individuals to the DTC from anywhere in the two-county region.”

Patients can expect a virtual intake over phone or Zoom, prescriptions called to pharmacies near them; ongoing, remote access to a medical provider, and access to virtual group or individual sessions with a behavioral health provider. Anyone who does not have insurance or who cannot afford their insurance deductibles or copays can apply for financial support from Healthy Acadia’s Treatment Fund.

“I am thrilled to learn about this development. The expansion of MAT services by the DTC to patients with a substance use disorder is a significant enhancement of the services in Downeast Maine,” noted Gordon Smith, the state’s Director of Opioid Response. “The establishment of low barrier access to MAT is a high priority in the Governor’s Opioid Response Strategic Plan and to be able to advance this program virtually allows patients in these two rural counties an opportunity for treatment without leaving their home. Congratulations to all involved in bringing it to fruition.”

The DTC opened in early 2018 and arose out of the work of the Downeast Treatment Substance Network (DSTN), a partnership of organizations and community members in Downeast, Maine, that has been meeting monthly since the fall of 2014. The DSTN and a parallel group focusing specifically in Washington County, the WC Substance Use Response Collaborative (WC SURC) have been convened by Healthy Acadia, a local nonprofit community health organization that is also responsible for managing multiple federal grants and multidisciplinary teams that support the DTC, recovery coaching services, and many other harm reduction and recovery-related initiatives.

“We are thrilled by this development and honored to be a part of it,” said Penny Guisinger, Recovery Programs Director at Healthy Acadia. “Many medical providers across this region are offering MAT, and the number is growing. Adding virtually-available treatment will make a huge difference for people who are ready to begin MAT but who don’t have access to a site that offers rapid access.”

The DTC provides a full-service MAT program that utilizes buprenorphine, medical management, and behavioral therapy. MAT is a best practice, state-of-the-art response to Opioid Use Disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “…these medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. MAT programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an abused opioid. And research has shown that when provided at the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capability, physical functioning, or employability.

To learn more, or to begin the process of participating in MAT, call the DTC at (207) 667-6890. To learn more about Healthy Acadia’s recovery programming, including recovery coaching, visit www.healthyacadia.org.

Healthy Acadia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that engages in a broad range of initiatives to build healthier communities and make it easier for people to lead healthy lives across Washington and Hancock counties, Maine. Learn more at www.healthyacadia.org.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. AMHC Sexual Assault Client Advocates Amber Rankine and Jodi Leach are just two members of our team who continue to support victims of sexual assault even during COVID-19. 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.

As part of the national 2020 “I Ask” Campaign Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) joins the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) in empowering individuals to put consent into practice.

AMHC is pleased to highlight Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This year’s theme, “I Ask for Consent” builds on the idea that consent is a normal and necessary part of sex. The goal of the campaign is to empower all of us to put consent into practice.

“We all have a role to play in the prevention of sexual assault,” shared Michelle Ferris, Program Director for Emergency Services in Aroostook, Washington and Hancock counties. “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.”

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/.

Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp Extends Partnership with UMFK

Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp is pleased to partner with UMFK through 2024. It will hold its 34th camp this summer July 26-30, 2020. Campers from 2019 work on a team-building activity and include (l to r) Nicolette Martin, Sarah London, Gavin Plant, Taylor Coulombe, Cooper Saucier, and Samantha Shank. They are being led by staff member Emma Christie (background).

Aroostook Teen Leadership Camp (ATLC) is pleased to announce that it has extended its contract with UMFK through 2024. ATLC will hold its 34th camp from July 26-30, 2020. Focused on leadership development and drug prevention to teens currently in grades 6 – 8 in Aroostook County, ATLC is a program of the Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC).

“UMFK began hosting ATLC’s summer camp in 2018 and we have found it to be a great fit,” shared Amber Stedt, Prevention Coordinator. “The campus provides the right amount of space – access to small and large classrooms and easy access to “the Quad” for all of our team building and outdoor activities. Campers stay in the college’s dormitories and eat meals in the cafeteria. The staff is great and willing to accommodate the many needs associated with a very busy week.”

Scott Voisine, UMFK’s Dean of Community Education states, “Our campus has fully enjoyed welcoming ATLC to UMFK for the past two summers and our new five-year contract will ensure a continued relationship with the program.  Having so many young and energetic youth leaders from all over Aroostook County on our campus for such a stellar program is something everyone on campus looks forward to.  These kids are our future leaders and we appreciate the opportunity to be part of their development.”

The deadline for this year’s camp registration is Thursday, April 9. Information is available in all Aroostook County middle schools with students in grades 6 – 8, or by calling 207-498-6431 or emailing Amber Stedt, Prevention Coordinator (astedt@amhc.org).

Since 1987, ATLC has mentored thousands of pre-teens and teens grades 6-12 in the process of social-emotional learning through a residential five-day summer camp augmented by a series of activities and programming through 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. For more information, connect with ATLC at www.atlc-camp.org.

Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab Celebrates Brain Injury Awareness Month

Center for Integrated Neuro Rehab (CINR), a program of AMHC, is highlighting Brain Injury Awareness Month during the month of March. CINR staff members include (seated l to r): Treska Berube and Teila Pimental and (standing l to r): Keely LeBlanc, Pam Searles and Betty Hendricksen.

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.

“Traumatic brain injuries 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.”

Therapy at CINR includes artwork. “Our clients create beautiful paintings and other artwork,” explained Searles. As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, artwork will be on display at the Caribou Public Library from March 16-31, 2020. “Our staff is excited to share the art created by our clients and we hope the community will stop by to enjoy their work.”

CINR will also host an open house at their facility at 159 Bennett Drive, Suite 1 in Caribou on March 18, 2020 from 10:30 a.m. -12:00. Clients will be sharing their stories of triumph in overcoming their injuries.

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 eligibility requirements.

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 …

Roads to Recovery Hosts “Fall into Recovery” Picnic

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 …

Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope Hosts One Year Anniversary Celebration

Aroostook Recovery Center of Hope (ARCH) will host a one-year anniversary celebration on Saturday, September 12 from 12:00 …