‘Mental health’ has been a top concern in our community for many years. We’ve all heard the term mental health, but do we really know what it means? What about mental illness? Is there a difference? Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It helps us determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental illness, however, is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior, or mood. These conditions deeply impact day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others. Both can cause an individual’s quality of life to decline drastically.
Carson Tahoe Health recognized this vital need and opened Behavioral Health Services (BHS) in 1989 and has been providing inpatient and outpatient mental health care to the community ever since.
Mallory Crisis Center
Noticing an increased need for access to immediate mental health and substance use treatment, Carson Tahoe opened the Mallory Behavioral Health Crisis Center. This model of care was the result of a community partnership with local law enforcement and first responders to keep these patients out of the emergency room and jails while giving them a place to get individualized mental health care. Since 2017, the crisis center has served as a safety net for the community and has cared for approximately 3,000 patients annually. It was quickly determined that to continue to fulfill this critical need, it would be necessary to expand the facility.
In 2019, thanks to a generous multi-year pledge from the Mallory Foundation the expansion became reality. This project, set to be completed in 2021, will include 15 new beds, three triage/holding spaces, and extra office space.
Several essential programs were added in 2019 to help fill the gaps in our mental health services.
First Episode Psychosis Program
Through a Community Mental Health Block Grant, BHS was awarded $500,000 for a First Episode Psychosis (FEP) program. Psychosis involves loss of contact with reality, such as hallucinations or delusions, lack of self-care, and difficulty thinking clearly. With early treatment, some people never have another psychotic episode, however, for those who experience recurring symptoms, early treatment provides a foundation for recovery and full life.
Assertive Community Treatment Program
BHS was also awarded a $286,000 Community Mental Health Block Grant for its Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program. ACT provides individuals with chronic, severe mental illness additional resources such as routine therapy and case management assistance.
safeTALK and Mental Health First Aid
In 2019, BHS worked closely with Carson City School District professionals to address the adolescent suicide rate by providing formal suicide risk assessments and referrals for students throughout the district. As well, BHS provided suicide education to district professionals and school nurses. The program is set to extend to the Douglas County Schools in 2020.
Acknowledging that mental illness is a community problem is the first step towards a healthy population. These programs are designed to provide treatment and support beyond the hospital setting, improving quality of life, and to help spread hope.