HANCOCK COUNTY — Hope Adams doesn’t want to go back to group therapy.
But the Greenfield woman has few options.
For more than two years, Adams, 40, attended countless group counseling sessions with the county-subsidized treatment provider, Gallahue Mental Health, to treat her anxiety, bouncing from group to group but never finding the right fit, she said. She requested individual sessions but never received them, and the cost of one-on-one treatment from other providers was too high.
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Kim Hall, executive director of Mental Health Partners of Hancock County, a nonprofit that connects residents struggling with mental illnesses to area resources, has heard similar reports from dozens of clients sent to Gallahue because they can’t afford services elsewhere. Now, leaders from the nonprofit are urging government officials to reconsider their arrangement with Gallahue, saying it can’t keep up with treatment demands from local patients.
In response to calls from nonprofit leaders, members of the Hancock County Board of Commissioners say they plan to meet with representatives from Gallahue, which has served as the area’s mental health provider for decades, to see what can be done to improve the service.
Under Indiana law, counties are required to pay a mental health care provider a lump sum annually to offset treatment costs for area residents. The program, in place since the ’50s, is designed to not only make sure mental health care services are available locally but to reduce costs for residents without adequate insurance.
Allison Bordeaux, chief operations officer for Gallahue, said the provider works to stretch funding from the county — about $350,000 for 2016 — but the money can cover only so many treatments for the about 1,200 patients the center sees each year.
Those services don’t always satisfy patients’ needs, said Hall, who’s referred more than 300 people for counseling or other treatment from Gallahue since she was hired as executive director in 2015.
The majority of those clients are displeased with the quality of service they’ve received, Hall said.
For Adams, the treatment options recommended for her only made her symptoms worse, she said. The group setting began contributing to her stress — seeing new faces every few weeks, detailing her troubles and concerns in front of a crowd of up to 30 residents, she said. She stopped attending meetings months ago and is currently without treatment.
Hall is reluctant to refer clients to services other than Gallahue, largely because the cost of other treatments, which aren’t subsidized by county dollars, are outside most of her clients’ price range. Referring clients elsewhere also entails sending them to out-of-county clinics in unfamiliar areas, she said.
Clients have complained to Hall about a number of issues: some say they ask for counseling but only receive prescriptions, while others have shared stories about insensitive staff and unreturned phone calls, Hall said.
The funding the county provides Gallahue, which is operated by Community Health Network and has a local office in the 100 block of Green Meadows Drive, underwrites the cost of services, which include psychological testing, individual and group therapy.
That figure, determined annually based on population and property tax values in the county, among other factors, increases slightly each year, Richardson said.
De’Von Kissick Kelly, executive director of the Hancock County Women’s Resource Center, said her clients have also criticized the services.
Last year, Kissick Kelly referred a domestic abuse victim to receive counseling from Gallahue.
But the only service offered to the woman from Gallahue was group counseling, and the woman wasn’t comfortable sharing the story in front of others, Kissick Kelly said.
Other complaints from clients have included long delays and unreturned phone calls, she said.
“It’s frustrating because I want to send them somewhere that’s appropriate for them, where they’ll actually receive help,” Kissick Kelly said.
Bordeaux emphasized the value of the services the company provides to county residents, but said the company is open to shifting its priorities if needed.
In 2015, nearly 1,200 residents received treatment from Gallahue, Bordeaux said.
Bordeaux plans to meet with key representatives in the county to hear and respond to concerns.
“We’re willing to go to the table and talk about any program that’s deemed needed,” Bordeaux said.
Commissioner Marc Huber said he plans to meet with representatives from key local organizations who rely on Gallahue for referrals to hear more feedback about their experiences with the company.
Huber also plans to contact Gallahue to gain an understanding of how they decide who receives treatment and also what type of treatment to provide.
“We want to see what shortfalls might be out there before we move forward,” Huber said. “If there are any areas where it looks like we need to improve, that’s something we’ll need to look into.”
Huber plans to meet with stakeholders over the next several weeks and return to the other commissioners before deciding how to proceed.
Since stepping away from group therapy, Adams has sought treatment through other means. She volunteers regularly with the local Mental Health Partners office, referring others to support services. She sits on the nonprofit’s board of directors and has spearheaded plans for a teen support group.
“For now,” Adams said, “reaching out and helping other people is my therapy.”