Category: <span>News</span>

AMHC Announces Michelle Ferris as Chief Operations Officer

AMHC announces appointment of Michelle Ferris, LCSW as Chief Operations Officer.

Ellen Bemis, CEO, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) has announced the appointment of Michelle Ferris, LCSW to Chief Operations Officer. “Michelle’s experience in direct service, administration, and as a member of the senior leadership team, combined with her 15 years of service to AMHC makes her well suited for the role.”

As COO, Ferris will oversee AMHC’s day-to-day operations across all services and sites in partnership with the senior leadership team. She replaces Jennette Hitchcock, LCSW, who will retire as Chief Operations Officer in late February.

Ferris joined AMHC in 2006 and assumed increasing roles of responsibility primarily in emergency services. She joined the senior leadership team in 2019 as the Program Director of Emergency Services in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties. Michelle is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work in the City of New York.

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 providing mental health, substance use, crisis, and sexual assault services. For more information, connect with AMHC at www.amhc.org.

New Resource Offered to Court Users Impacted by Substance Use in Washington County

Maryanne Young, AMHC Recovery Support Navigator, offers free, confidential services to court-involved individuals impacted by substance use and mental health challenges.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to partner with the New England Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative, in collaboration with the Washington County District and Superior Courts, to offer a pilot program known as Recovery Support Navigation in Washington County. It is a free, confidential, and voluntary service for court-involved individuals impacted by substance use and mental health challenges. Funding for this program comes from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

“Our county has the highest rates of overdose deaths in New England,” explained Judge David Mitchell, Washington County District Court. “It is critical that we combat substance use disorder from many different angles and this program has proved successful in other parts of the country. ”

Services are provided by Maryanne Young, AMHC Recovery Support Navigator, who assists individuals and their loved ones with understanding prevention, treatment, and recovery resources available in the community; accessing substance use treatment services including Medication Assisted Treatment for addiction or psychiatric medications; developing personal goals and objectives related to addressing substance use disorder; MaineCare enrollment; and connections to care coordination services including housing, transportation, and employment.

Navigation services are eligible to court users or family members involved with any court department and do not need to have a current open case or be on probation to receive services. Referrals may come from the defense counsel, district attorney’s office, probation department, healthcare providers, law enforcement, and family members. Self-referrals are also welcome.

For more information, please reach out to Maryanne Young, Recovery Support Navigator by phone at 207-496-9733 or by email at myoung@amhc.org.

About Bureau of Justice

Recovery Support Navigation in Washington County Maine is supported in part by Grant No. 2017-PM-BX-K037 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). BJA is a component of the Department of Justices’ Office of Justice Programs. The Recovery Support Navigation program is also supported by the New England Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and AMHC.

AMHC Seeks Community Feedback on Aroostook’s Substance Use Epidemic

Erik Lamoreau, AMHC Project Coordinator is encouraging all residents to complete a short survey on substance use in Aroostook County to help gauge public opinion on stigma, access to services, and gaps in service. The survey closes on January 7, 2022, and participants will be eligible to win one of five $100 gift cards.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is asking community members to participate in a survey that will help the agency and its consortium update the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment and Gap Analysis, which is focused on substance use in Aroostook County. The survey gauges public opinion on stigma, access to services, and gaps in service.

“Overdose deaths continue to increase and we are working to reverse that trend,” said Erik Lamoreau, AMHC’s Project Coordinator. “Updating our community survey is an important part of the process – we help ensure that our work aligns with evidence-based practices and community priorities.”  The community survey is available on AMHC’s Facebook page, on its website and will be widely distributed through community partners. The electronic version is mobile-friendly and hard copies will be provided to individuals or organizations upon request.

This effort is part of AMHC’s 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.  “In 2021, AMHC also received a HRSA RCORP Implementation grant, a three-year, $1 million award to assist in adopting critical initiatives identified in the needs assessment,” explained Lamoreau. “That work has already begun and supported by our consortium members.” Representatives from AMHC, Northern Maine Medical Center, Cary Medical Center, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, Houlton Regional Hospital, Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, MicMac Behavioral Health Department, and a person in recovery are part of the consortium.

This 10-minute survey will conclude at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 7, 2021. All individuals who include their name and a contact number will be entered into a drawing for one of five $100 Amazon gift cards. Winners will be contacted on Monday, January 10. Please note: Gift cards will only be awarded to individuals living in Aroostook County.  For more information or to request a copy of the survey, 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 Joins Workforce Board’s Recovery Friendly Employer Network

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) has joined the Northeastern Workforce Development Board’s (NWDB) Recovery Friendly Employer network. “AMHC is excited to announce its participation,” said Brittany Ballard, Director of Human Resources. “A major goal of this project is for employers to formally recognize their support of recovery, and then decide how that can be implemented within our own workplace practices.”

NWBD recently voted to create a network and support system for employers that are recovery-friendly. “Addiction and the opioid crisis have hit Maine hard. People in recovery are struggling to find employment and businesses are feeling the impact of substance use disorder,” explains Joanna Russell, Executive Director of the NWDB.  “To help turn the tide, employers can adopt a culture that openly supports recovery, which can improve both employee satisfaction and better our community.

By joining this initiative, AMHC reinforces its commitment to a healthy, safe, and stigma-free work environment to eliminate barriers to recovery for those impacted by addiction. “In early November employees were notified of our involvement,” shared Ballard. “Being designated a Recovery Friendly Employer is a great step in AMHC formally declaring the agency’s support for recovery.”

About NWDB’s Recovery Friendly Employer Network

As a member of the network, employers will have access to tailored advice, workshops, and resource materials. The NWDB will publish a formal list of employees in mid-January 2022. All businesses interested in taking part can visit the NWDB webpage (https://www.northeasternwdb.org/recovery-friendly-employers/) or contact Joanna Russell at 207-951-2549.

AMHC’s Children’s Residential Treatment Achieves Three-Year CARF Accreditation

AMHC Children’s Residential team members proudly display the three-year accreditation certificate received by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Supporting the application and implementation are (l to r): Clem Deveau, Shannon Gove, Cathy Sawtelle, Tiffany Duchesneau, Brian Walton, and Dan Clements (absent: Dr. Katherine Rice). The program serves youth ages 7-19.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that its Children’s Residential Treatment program has been issued a three-year accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).  Located in Calais, the program is a ten-bed 24-hour clinical residential facility serving youth ages 7-19 that are experiencing behavioral and developmental challenges.

“In their letter, CARF shared that this achievement is an indication of our organization’s dedication and commitment to improving the quality of the lives of those we serve,” said Clem Deveau, LCSW, CCS, AMHC Program Director of Behavioral Health for Washington and Hancock counties. “We are proud of obtaining this high level of accreditation and grateful for the staff who work hard serving the youth in our care.”

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 ongoing process, establishing a provider’s commitment to enhance its performance, manage its risk, and distinguish its service delivery.

AMHC Children’s Residential program is currently accepting client referrals. Please contact them at 207-454-0269 for more information or to learn more about eligibility requirements.

AMHC Welcomes Daniel Clements to Senior Leadership

AMHC Welcomes Daniel Clements as Program Director of Residential/Crisis Units in Washington County.

Ellen Bemis, CEO, Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) has announced that Daniel Clements has joined the AMHC Senior Leadership Team. “We are very pleased to have Dan join us as the Program Director of Residential/Crisis Units in Washington County,” said Bemis. “The expansion of services throughout our region precipitated the need for an additional program director. Dan’s experience with crisis and residential services make him a great asset to our team.”

As program director, Dan oversees the residential programs in Calais including children’s residential, and both the children and adult crisis stabilization units.  Dan was most recently the program director for Gateway Mountain Center in Truckee, California, an outpatient and therapeutic rehabilitation center for youth and transitional age youth. Prior to this, Dan supported children’s behavioral health programs in Nevada and Alaska. He received his Bachelor of Science: Biology with Psychology and Chemistry Minor from Liberty University in 2010. Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, Dan is looking forward to being closer to his family.

AMHC Raises Awareness on Suicide

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is designated as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) encourages everyone to Take 5 to Save Lives!

“According to the Maine Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Mainers ages 10-45,” explains Michelle Ferris, Director of Emergency Services.  “Our State’s suicide rate remains higher than the rest of the nation and more people die from suicide than from car accidents or breast cancer. AMHC is available to anyone in Aroostook, Washington, and Hancock counties experiencing a crisis. To access our Mobile Emergency Services team please call or text the Maine Crisis Line at 1-888-568-1112.”

Take 5 to Save Lives is a public awareness campaign run by the National Council for Suicide Prevention in support of World Suicide Prevention Day, to be held on Friday, September 10, 2021. The goal of the campaign is to encourage everyone to take 5 simple actions steps that focus on preventing the tragedy of suicide. By taking 5 minutes to learn about suicide, you will be making a difference in the world! The steps include:

  1. LEARN THE SIGNS. Although it may not always be obvious, individuals experiencing an emotional crisis usually exhibit one or more of the warning signs of suicide. Your ability to identify the signs will better prepare you to take action and could help save a life.
  2. KNOW HOW TO HELP. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your friend if they’re having thoughts of suicide. By knowing exactly what to say and do, you’ll be ready to act and keep your friends and family safe.
  3. PRACTICE SELF-CARE. Research indicates that our mental fitness or wellness is crucial to our overall long-term health, and can even protect us from disease. Learn some tips for keeping mentally fit. Make it a priority!
  4. REACH OUT. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress you must reach out for help. You are not alone. Learn about different help options and how to take that first step in seeking help and care.
  5. SPREAD THE WORD. Let’s get people talking! By sharing the Take 5 campaign with 5 other people we can raise awareness of the problem of suicide and equip people with easy tools to help themselves and others. Together we can all make a difference!

International Overdose Awareness Day

WHEREAS, started in 2001 and recognized annually on August 31, International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event to remember those who have lost their lives to drug overdoses, to raise awareness of overdoses, to reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends; and

WHEREAS, in 2020, over 93,000 individuals died the United States from drug overdoses, including 504 individuals here in Maine; and

WHEREAS, the state of Maine has distributed over 90,000 doses of the life-saving drug Naloxone to date, resulting in over 2,500 lives saved; and

WHEREAS, there are now available in the State many types of treatment for substance use disorder, as well as robust harm-reduction activities and recovery support programs; and

WHEREAS, as part of the state’s OPTIONS program, there are now behavioral health specialists in all sixteen counties reaching out to people using drugs and connecting them with harm-reduction services or pathways to recovery; and

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented stress on Maine people of all ages, leading to increases in alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, and other risky behavior; and

WHEREAS, as we have seen global solidarity and shared responsibility with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also respond globally to reduce the harm associated with illicit drug use;

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that I, Janet T. Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby recognize August 31, 2021 as

International Overdose Awareness Day

throughout the state, and I and encourage all citizens to take part in activities and observances designed to remember those we have lost, to increase awareness of drug overdoses, and to join the global effort to reduce the death toll associated with drug overdoses.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services to Host Virtual Book Club for Survivors and Learners

AMHC Sexual Assault Services’ staff members Amber Rankine, Client Advocate in Fort Kent, and Kirsten Tenney, Rural Advocate in Machias will be leading a virtual book club for survivors of sexual assault and any community member who wants to learn more about supporting others in their healing journey. The Learning, Health, and Growing through Literature series will begin Saturday, August 7. Participation and supplies are free of charge by registering at sas-info@amhc.org.

AMHC Sexual Assault Services is pleased to host a virtual book club for individuals to learn, heal and grow whether they are a survivor of sexual assault or want to learn more about supporting others in their healing journey. The weekly Zoom meetings will be held Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. from August 7, 2021 – September 11, 2021.

“We appreciate the Maine Humanities Council for making the grant funds available for us to host the book club,” said Julia Miller, Program Director of Prevention and Sexual Assault Services. “This Learning, Healing and Growing through Literature series will bring together participants from the comfort of their own home and create a safe space for them to discuss and share.”

Funding from the Maine Humanities Council will allow attendees to receive free of charge a copy of “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., as well as a journal and 18-count color pen set to help attendees reflect on the weekly readings.

Please register by Wednesday, July 28 by emailing sas-info@amhc.org.

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 is 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 into Washington County

(l to r) Crisis Counselors Ashley Warren, Ricky Devoe and Briggette Newel are part of AMHC’s new adult crisis stabilization unit in Calais. The service opened in June, 2021 and serves individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

Aroostook Mental Health Services, Inc. (AMHC) is pleased to announce that it has opened an adult crisis stabilization unit (ACSU) at 127 Palmer Street in Calais. The ACSU joins AMHC’s other services in the same location.

“Prior to the opening of this facility, individuals in Washington County in need of a crisis stabilization unit would be referred to Bangor or Presque Isle, up to 120 miles away,” explained Michelle Ferris, LCSW, Program Director of Emergency Services. “This resulted in individuals having to wait in emergency departments or in the community while their crisis worsened. A local resource will have a significant impact on both the individuals in need of services as well as their family members.”

The opening of the ACSU is possible thanks to the grant funds provided through Davis Family Foundation ($100,000), C.F. Adams Charitable Trust ($30,000), and the Maine Community Foundation ($10,000). “We are grateful for their tremendous support,” shared Ferris. “Due to their generosity, we anticipate providing services for up to 100 clients per year.”

The new space offers five private rooms, two bathrooms, and the facility is handicap accessible. In addition, clients will have a private space to visit with family, friends, or other supports. The open floor plan provides a kitchen, dining, and living room area.

A crisis stabilization unit (CSU) is for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis that would benefit from a short-term stay in a safe, residential-type environment. The CSU has trained crisis staff to offer support, intervention, safety planning, and connection to other services that may be needed. Referrals to the ACSU in Calais can be made 24/7 by calling 207-454-1910. Anyone is welcome to make a referral.

About the Funders

  • The Davis Family Foundation is a public charitable foundation established by Phyllis C. Davis and H. Halsey Davis of Falmouth, Maine, to support educational, medical, and cultural/arts organizations located primarily in Maine.
  • The C.F. Adams Charitable Trust was created by Charles Francis Adams in 1987 and currently focuses on enhancing the quality of life in the Downeast region of Maine and improving children’s behavioral health in Massachusetts.
  • Headquartered in Ellsworth, with additional personnel in Portland, Dover-Foxcroft, Rockport, 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.

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