Mental Health Month 2019: Innovative, Community-focused CCBHC Making an Impact

When Practice Administrator Judith Chappell, LCAS, LPC, CCS, CSOTS, tells others about the innovative behavioral health services available at Monarch’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), she speaks with passion and excitement.

The whole-person focus of the CCBHC mirrors May 2019’s Mental Health Month theme, promoted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), #4Mind4Body, incorporating the importance of both mental and physical health.

NAMI distributes information and promotes mental health awareness to address the millions of people affected by the broken systems and attitudes that present barriers to mental health treatment and recovery.

The CCBHC, the first of its kind in the state and located in Albemarle, is making inroads into Stanly County communities with a dedicated team of behavioral health specialists armed with information about available services and resources.

Chappell explained that a major difference compared to other community healthcare providers is that those seeking service will have the expertise of a team to manage their healthcare needs, with the added bonus of connections to resources addressing medical, housing, employment and other vital needs.

Last fall the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded Monarch a two-year, $3.2 million federal grant allowing for development of the CCBHC model. In addition to fortifying existing behavioral health programs, the CCBHC team is collaborating with Stanly County teachers and administration, community first responders and leaders; organizing groundbreaking support groups; and focusing on the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Chappell explained how the county’s teachers are being offered instruction on identifying and dealing with their student’s reaction to experiencing traumatic life events. The team is also in the early stages of planning a social evening for LGBTQ adolescents.

A critical component and facet of CCBHC’s outreach is to fight the opioid epidemic, particularly in Stanly County, which had the highest rate of opioid overdose emergency department visits in the state for 2018, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Chappell mentioned that the CCBHC has joined forces with emergency responders who typically are the first to treat those experiencing an overdose.

A physician’s assistant is present on scene during the emergency response, Chappell noted, immediately beginning the recovery process and putting in place treatment options. “We try to remove as many barriers as we can to our services from seeking treatment after an overdose. Their care starts immediately. That is our goal,” she said.

CCBHC Nurse Care Manager Monique Lucas, BSN, RN, CCM, CCCTM, said the combination of the staff reaching out within the community and planning targeted events is helping spread the word. “Collaboration and coordination within the community is what really sets us apart from other resources,” Lucas noted, adding that staff is planning future community events based on the needs they are uncovering.

One of the first events the CCBHC will be organizing is a Family Health and Wellness Fair at Stanly County Commons, 817 N. 1st St., in Albemarle from 1 – 4 p.m., Saturday, May 11. The fair will feature activities for families and refreshments.

In a relatively short amount of time and from the success stories her staff is relaying, Chappell believes the CCBHC is making an impact with the staff planning ahead for the next two years of the grant.

“Anytime a group wants us to visit and talk about the CCBHC’s services, we are happy to come out and deliver our story,” Chappell said of the ongoing education within the community. “We truly believe this program provides the right combination of mental health, substance use treatment, care management and physical health resources that are designed to deliver whole-health care. CCBHC’s goal is to bring cutting-edge services, resources and outreach to the Stanly County community.”

For events being held across North Carolina in coordination with Mental Health Month, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website for dates and additional information.

Photo caption: Above, left to right, the CCBHC’s Care Management Team consists of Gregory Crawford, Yolanda Pass, Chris McLamb, Paul Stroud, Monique Lucas, Brittany Cowan, Christina Vest and Jamise Dieme.