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It's OK to ask for help

It's OK to ask for help

Every other day someone in Wyoming dies from suicide. With the highest suicide rate in the nation, quality mental health care is of the utmost importance for Wyoming’s residents. That’s why the Behavioral Health Services staff at Campbell County Health takes their role seriously in helping people through difficult times.

“It’s a tremendous problem around the country,” said Jeff Rice, director of Behavior Health Services at Campbell County Memorial Hospital. “The people who tend to commit suicide are not typically connected to mental health services. That’s why we urge people to get in to see us if they’re struggling or know a friend is suicidal. It’s OK to ask for help.”

There’s a wealth of therapists with CCH ready to help at any point in time, and not just for individuals who may be suicidal, but for anyone experiencing a number of mental health disorders or just need extra mental health support. There are currently 11 therapists on staff, including two psychologists, two licensed social workers and one marriage and family therapist. The other therapists are licensed professional counselors – all prepared to help patients navigate the ups and downs of life.

“We get people who, in the course of life, are in some pretty difficult situations that need some extra support and insight,” Jeff said. “There’s nothing shameful about coming here. All the therapists have at least a master’s degree and are licensed through the state of Wyoming. Plus, every year they’re required to do so many hours of continuing education.”

When someone seeks services at CCH, they go through an assessment process and an individualized treatment plan is put into place. Most patients are set up with outpatient services which can include regular sessions with a therapist, ongoing drug treatment or medication management

In addition to outpatient therapy, CCH has an eight-bed inpatient treatment area that has space for adults and adolescents (13 years old and above) available at the hospital for those in crisis. Typically, patients who are in crisis are admitted to the emergency room before being brought to the fifth floor for inpatient mental health treatment. A typical stay is five to seven days before patients are released with an extensive follow-up outpatient treatment plan.

In just the last few years, the adolescent beds have been added to the facility, enabling teens in crisis to remain in the community, close to family, friends and support systems.

“In the past, parents were stuck having to have kids admitted to Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper or out of state,” Jeff said. “The best case scenario is always to keep kids in their community.”

With the adolescent beds now in place, Jeff said they’ve been able to work more closely with kids and families, providing much-needed services to the community. In addition, through a community-wide effort, the number of suicides has slowly decreased in the last two years.

“People feel mental illness is something you can just shake off or that one can pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” Jeff said. “People don’t realize untreated mental illness can kill you. People can save their own lives…by making a phone call.”

And the staff in the Behavior Health Services department is ready to assist patients in getting their lives back on track, addressing addiction issues and treating any other mental health concerns. The key, Jeff said is just making the call when times are hard.

“If you’re feeling depressed, make the phone call,” Jeff said. “Don’t let it get to crisis level.”

Campbell County Health Behavioral Health Services provides the Northeastern Wyoming community with compassionate, confidential and comprehensive treatment of behavioral disorders, mental illness and substance abuse treatment following detox. Learn more by calling 307.688.5000 or visiting www.cchwyo.org/BHS.

Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer