At Seacoast Mental Health Center, we are proud to participate in local and statewide initiatives to improve the quality and accessibility of mental health care for the residents of Eastern Rockingham County. To learn more about what we do, browse through our latest community involvement and newsworthy stories.
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In The News
Workforce, insurance charges barriers to tackling youth mental health crisis
A severe workforce shortage and battles with insurance companies for reimbursement remain barriers for New Hampshire to recover from the highest incidence of youths in mental health crisis in its history, according to experts in the field. Many of them, including our Director of Child, Adolescent & Family Services, spoke with US Senator Jeanne Shaheen about this challenge.
‘We need normalcy for kids’: Seacoast mental health experts on reopening schools
Jodie Lubarsky MA, LCMHC, Child, Adolescent and Family Services Director, reflects on the emotional impact of COVID on kids and the current discussions regarding kids moving back to in-person learning. “What we need to keep in mind is that…Along with us, they (children) have faced illness, loss of loved ones, financial challenges and for many food insecurity.”
NHPR and SMHC Talk about the Impact of COVID on the Mental Health of Older Adults
In NHPR’s final show in their three-part series about the mental health impacts of the past year, called Taking A Toll, they talk about older adults. With many facing technological barriers and cognitive issues, elderly people are struggling with isolation and depression. Hear input from:
- Joe Capabianco – retired resident of RiverWoods in Durham.
- Anne Marie Olsen-Hayward – a licensed clinical social worker at SMHC and the director of the state’s Referral Education Assistance and Prevention program (REAP)
- Dr. Jodi Marshall – Medical Director for the St. Joseph Hospital Senior Behavioral Health Unit.
- Brendan Williams – President and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association.
Couture: We must do more to address mental health crisis in NH
“We are not anticipating overwhelming demand for mental health services; we are living in a time of overwhelming demand…The most important piece to solving this puzzle will be the collaboration needed to implement workable solutions.”
NH, Telehealth and Mental Health
Fred Kocher (WMUR NH Business Report) , Jim Monahan (the Dupont Group) and Dennis Walker (SMHC) discuss the growth of telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Exeter Police Department Response to Persons Affected By Mental Illness: The One Mind Campaign
PRESS RELEASE – December 11, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Exeter Police Department Response to Persons Affected By Mental Illness: The One Mind Campaign
Exeter, NH. The Exeter Police Department is pleased to announce that they are the first police agency in the State of New Hampshire to have completed a pledge to improve their response to those suffering from mental illness in their community. Mental illness has become a common focus within law enforcement with some departments estimating that approximately 20% of their calls are related to mental health challenges.
The pledge is part of an initiative called the One Mind Campaign started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a 30,000 member professional association for law enforcement that provides training, technical assistance, and recruitment services. To join the One Mind Campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices in a 12-36-month period to ensure successful future interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness.
Chief Stephan Poulin joined the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s One Mind Campaign because, “Sadly, it is an issue that our officers and dispatchers are more frequently being called upon to address in our community. Being on the frontline, it is imperative that we do everything that we can to achieve the most positive outcome and to have the training and partnerships to help these people we come into contact with who may be in a crisis or suffering.”
To date in 2020, The Exeter Police have responded to 107 calls regarding mental health issues. Of those, 44 were for people threatening or attempting to die by suicide; tragically there was one report of death by suicide via firearm. The mental health calls typically regard situations involving both diagnosed and undiagnosed individuals and include: responses for destructive or erratic behavior, self-harm (with a razor or knife, or drugs), assault and/or overall concerns from family members or clinicians. Calls also have involved reports of individuals who wished to have an officer release their firearm at them (death by suicide via police).
Exeter Police Sergeant Devin West undertook the internal logistics of the pledge and worked closely and diligently with Seacoast Mental Health Center, Inc.’s (SMHC) Director of Emergency Services, Dennis Walker. As part of the initiative, the department entered into a memorandum of understanding with SMHC and implemented the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale for officers to utilize on scene for proper assessments and to coordinate with SMHC clinicians.
Sgt. West stated, “I am very proud to say that the Exeter Police Department is now the first of four agencies in the State of New Hampshire to complete the One Mind pledge and become a One Mind department. Now every officer, has had mental health training that they can put to use in the field to deescalate situations that could otherwise turn bad. Our relationship with SMHC will continue to strengthen and will benefit the mentally ill that need us the most.”
Director Walker added, “It was an honor training the Exeter Police on using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. Chief Poulin and his staff join a growing number of forward-thinking police departments around the country who understand the importance of intervening in a mental health crisis in a way that promotes respect, wellness, and effective intervention. This tool in the hands of police and first responders will save lives.”
Along with establishing a sustainable partnership with the SMHC, the department developed and implemented a policy to address officers’ interactions with those affected by mental illness and ensured that all of their officers received some type of mental health awareness training. Additionally, at least twenty percent of the department has completed more intensive Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).
This 40-hour CIT training is designed to train a team of specialized officers to respond to calls that involve individuals with mental health disorders such as depression or intellectual disability. The curriculum includes education on various de-escalation techniques, as well as live role-play scenarios of officers responding to persons who need mental health assistance.
Chief Poulin says the greatest benefit in adopting all the strategies of the One Mind Campaign pledge has been “our growing partnership with Director Walker and his staff at SMHC, as well as increased training for our staff in this sensitive and very important health issue. Officers and dispatchers can feel confident in their assessments and know how to get the proper resources to help people in their times of crisis.”
The department would also like to recognize and thank SMHC Training Coordinator, Kerry Cromwell, for her pivotal instruction and assistance in completion of the Mental Health First Aid training portion of this goal.
If you or a loved one are in crisis, please call either SMHC 24/7/365 at 603-431-6703 or 603-772-2710 or call 911 for immediate assistance. There is always help available.
Attached photos: Sgt. Devin West at SMHC
Chief Stephan Poulin and Director Dennis Walker at SMHC
Preventing teen suicide with Columbia risk assessment tool
Preventing suicide is possible in many cases and to that goal, Seacoast Mental Health Center (SMHC) staff is reaching out to local school systems to show them how to help vulnerable teens.
Dennis Walker, Director of Emergency Services at SMHC has been working with the Raymond school district to train them on the Columbia Severity Scale, which is a national tool to assess risk for suicide. Dennis discusses this initiative, as well as describes the simplicity and effectiveness of the Columbia tool in this article here.
Coronavirus pandemic increasing depression, substance abuse
Mental health experts are concerned about the rise in depression, substance use disorders, and suicidal ideations in adults as they try to cope with the continued isolation and added burdens of COVID-19. Our Director of Adult Services, Patty Driscoll, talks about signs, concerns, and ways to connect. Read the Seacoastonline article here.
Anxiety, depression increasing as pandemic continues
Our Directors of Emergency Services and Youth & Family Services spoke with WMUR9 about the mental health impact of COVID19 for all ages. They gave a high level assessment of what we’re seeing across both kids and adults, as well as a few signs to watch for in your loved ones. You can read and listen to the interview here.
How to ease children into this most unusual school year
Our Director of Children & Family Services shares an important message for parents about this year’s start of school. We are here for you and your kids. If you have any concerns or questions about school starting or your child, call us at 603-431-6703 or 603-772-2710. Read using tips and concerns to look out for as school starts – Advice for Parents During Back to School
Emergency doctors cheer growth of telemedicine
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, health care professionals embraced the use of telemedicine as a safe way to help their patients, and maybe no group more than emergency and critical care doctors decided it was the future of their professions.
Instant assessments can be made, and decisions are often timelier than they would have been before televisits began happening. Dennis Walker, Emergency Services Director at Seacoast Mental Health Center, shares their successes and why he is excited about the possibilities now that telehealth is here to stay. Read the full article here.
Telehealth is Here to Stay!
Physical and Mental Health providers have used telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic and found it to be a safe and efficient way to “see” patients while minimizing exposure to the virus. But they’ve been concerned this tool would disappear once the Emergency Orders expired.
HB 1623, which has passed both the New Hampshire House and the Senate, removes that fear. It enables reimbursement parity and allows providers to continue billing Medicaid and commercial insurers the same rate as they would for a face-to-face visit. The bill includes video, audio, or combinations of both and covers all areas on health care, including primary care, dentists, mental health, behavioral health, substance use disorders, dietitians, and home monitoring services.
Seacoast Mental Health Center (SMHC) has utilized telehealth for day-to-day case management and it is helping greatly to keep in touch with our clients, who might have transportation or childcare issues that would prevent them from keeping their appointments. Most of our psychiatry staff is doing telehealth visits, also.
“Telehealth is not a replacement for all services,” said Jay Couture, President & CEO of SMHC. “But it is making a difference right now and we can see it moving forward, for clients who do not have access, or maybe not enough data for video, they can be reached using the telephone.”
Mental health needs are rising, but providers are optimistic about solutions
Here in New Hampshire, mental health professionals are concerned about the impact that the pandemic will have on a health care system that is already stretched thin. Because of that, many providers in New Hampshire are preparing for an influx of new patients, and trying to improve the way that the state’s medical system delivers mental health care. What is the answer to immediately support the rise in demand – telehealth. Read the case for telehealth remaining in the Granite State here.
You can also watch the June 15th NH Community Behavioral Health Association’s Press Conference in support of the passage of the state’s telehealth bill here.
Supporting Mental Health on the Front Lines of COVID19
Health care workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 face both physical and mental health risks. Hospitals and other health care facilities, such as Seacoast Mental Health Care Inc, recognize this and are taking steps to care for the caregivers. Read how we and other organizations in the greater Seacoast New Hampshire area are supporting our staff’s mental wellbeing. Read the entire article here.
NHPR - Helping Children Deal With Isolation And Uncertainty During Unrest And A Pandemic
Children are facing not only the stress of remote learning and social isolation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but also a week of social unrest across the country. In the midst of all this uncertainty and loss, how are they handling the turmoil? Listen to an engaging discussing about childrens’ mental health, how we can address their concerns and what the long-term impacts might be.
Substance Use Disorder in the Pandemic - The State We’re In
COVID-19 has presented new challenges for people seeking substance use disorder treatment and mental health services. NH PBS’s show THE STATE WE’RE IN, explored new practices to keep practitioners and people seeking treatment and recovery connected.
Join Melonie Penda of PSBS, Carol Furlong of Eliot Hospital, Ken Norton of NAMINH and our CEO Jay Couture for an important discussion here.
Salute to Nurses: Being there for their patients at Seacoast Mental Health Center
n the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are on the front lines of caring for patients, and at Seacoast Mental Health Center, the mental health aspects of the virus are their concern as they try to deal with that fallout and still safely take care of their own patients.
Three nurses – Christopher Bashaw, Heidi Burbank and Jane Neville – talk about what it’s like. Most of the SMHC staff therapists and doctors are working remotely, through telemedicine, but the nurses are still seeing their patients. Please read here about our incredible nursing staff!
Mental health workers say resources available for seniors who feel isolated
New Hampshire mental health workers are reminding seniors there are resources available to help them as they’re being told to isolate themselves to protect against COVID-19. People over age 60 are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, so they’re being asked to stay away from family and friends. A population that is often already isolated could be feeling left behind.
In response, mental health centers are connecting people with services through the REAP program, which stands for referral, education, assistance and prevention. The program has been around for decades, but its purpose is highlighted in this time of crisis. Please read more here about REAP and how to help our seniors.
Mental health care becomes team effort in NH
As New Hampshire’s community mental health centers made the sudden shift to dealing with the new coronavirus crisis, staff and administrators found an operational foundation was already in place.
Our state has 10 community mental health centers, offering a broad range of services for approximately 55,000 people a year, said Jay Couture, president and CEO of Seacoast Mental Health Center. Telehealth options have become one way to deploy help to people as quickly as possible. It could be a long term answer to helping people who haven’t sought help before. “It’s not going to work with everyone, but, for some people it eliminates barriers to care,” Couture said.
Read the full article – Mental health care becomes team effort in NH – to learn more about the work NH’s community mental health centers are doing together for the state.
The new normal: Advice for parents on how to wear many hats in the face of COVID-19
Seacoast Mental Health Center’s Director of Children & Family Services department, Jodie Lubarsky, talks with Seacoast Online about the “new normal” around working, parenting, educating and living together – all the time – during COVID19. No one is alone in these complexities and feeling unsure – and often overwhelmed. Read the article in full here – Jodie Lubarsky Interviewed Seacoast online COVID19 parenting
NHPR- The Mental Health System Adjusts to COVID-19
NHPR’s The Exchange hosted a discussion about NH’s mental health system’s adjustment to COVID-19. They welcomed Jay Couture – President and CEO of Seacoast Mental Health Center and president of the N.H. Community Behavioral Health Association, Jessica LaChance – Director of the mobile crisis response team for the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester and Ken Norton – Executive Director of NAMI-NH the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
For Granite Staters struggling with mental illness — and those caring for them — fears about COVID-19 have added layers of anxiety. Telemedecine can help but not in all cases, and protective gear needed for in-home visits is scarce. Community mental health centers, considered essential services, remain open around the state, with as many services as possible being provided remotely. But case managers must still at times drive patients to get their prescribed injections, and mobile crisis team members must respond in person in crisis. We talk with those managing these situations, trying to help while also keeping themselves safe.
Op Ed - "Progress is Made on Mental Health in NH – But There’s Still So Much to Do"
Jay Couture, President & CEO of Seacoast Mental Health Center, wrote an insightful Op Ed article for the New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association (NHCBHA). Seacoast Mental Health Center, along with its nine other sister community mental health centers across the state, comprise the NHCBHA. Please read Ms Couture’s Op Ed here.
Connections Peer Support & SMHC announce Wellness Recovery Action Plan class
We are thrilled to work with Connections Peer Support Center to offer an upcoming Wellness Recovery Action Plan class to help individuals develop a personalized plan to deal with mental health issues when they arise. The 8-week class starts January 20th and runs on Mondays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at our Exeter office at 30 Magnolia Lane.
Call Connections or our office at 603-772-2710 for info. Please read greater information about the class in this article.
The Family Caregiver’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays
Portsmouth Living magazine published an article by Seacoast Mental Health Center’s VP of Community Relations regarding how to manage some of the possible added stress and anxiety around the holiday season. A report from the Family Caregiver Alliance found that 40%-70% of caregivers have symptoms of depression and loneliness. Read five concrete ways to care for yourself … and therefore others.
Read the full Portsmouth Living article here.