Position focuses on mental health

HANCOCK COUNTY — A new position at Hancock Regional Hospital aims to help connect young people struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues to the services they need to get better.

The creation of the position comes after six months of meetings among community nonprofit organizations and agencies, which have been working to implement new Indiana Family and Social Services guidelines that aim to improve the accessibility of mental health care in the state.

The organization’s system of care strategy includes about a dozen overarching guidelines from the Indiana Family and Social Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction, which certifies addiction treatment service-providers and supports community efforts to promote recovery.

To kick off the local effort, hospital officials have challenged their new local system of care coordinator, Amanda Everidge, to survey mental health and substance abuse treatment organizations in the county and the people they serve to identify what’s available and how to better connect patients with services.

Everidge, who currently serves as the hospital’s social services coordinator, hopes to create a database of local service options and how to access them. She will also spearhead the creation of a governance board of community organizations that support families and help keep kids out of trouble, in an effort to promote better communication among the agencies.

Everidge, who has worked at the hospital in various roles for about a decade, is familiar with the needs of people in crisis. As social services coordinator, she refers patients to community services, including organizations that can help people with substance abuse issues or psychological needs. When people come to the hospital, she is part of the team that points them in the right direction.

Having a database available in print and online will aid those efforts, she said.

Everidge hopes to use the Hancock County Community Resource Guide, a general community directory of health and human services compiled by the United Way of Central Indiana, a nonprofit organization that creates a coalition of charitable organizations to pool fundraising and support, as a template for the directory.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction systems of care strategy intends to help families maintain their independence and prevent children from entering the foster care or probation systems, said Margaret Madden, wraparound facilitator for Gallahue Mental Health Services.

Understanding how the community is currently offering aid to those groups is an important part of the process, Madden said.

As local stakeholders work together to learn more about what is available in the county and where the county needs to improve, they’ll look to current clients for input.

They’re especially interested in talking to those who have utilized mental health services, been on probation or worked with the Indiana Department of Child Services.

“We would love to have them be a part of our governance board,” Madden said. “This will not work without family representation.”

Love in the Name of Christ is among agencies that met to discuss the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s system of care program and how to adapt local services to follow the guidelines, said Love in the Name of Christ president Jim Peters.

Centralizing those discussions with a formal board should help organizations stay in touch with one another more regularly, Peters said.

“It’s tough to maintain those ad hoc coalitions,” he said. “Everyone gets busy with their own organizations.”

Everidge’s position, funded through a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, is the hospital’s latest attempt to transform its care to the population health model. Population health focuses on factors outside medical care that contribute to a person’s health before they seek help at the hospital.

The hospital and the Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation provided a 20 percent match for the grant, said hospital CEO Steve Long.

If you go

Hancock County organizations that provide mental health and substance abuse treatment services are invited to a community awareness meeting 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. July 14, at the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center at Hancock Regional Hospital, 801 N. State St., Greenfield. 

Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.