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Minutes of Mental Health Task Force, 02/11/2015

AGENDA: Mental Health Task Force

RECEIVED 02/17/2015 8:30am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk


In Attendance: Chief Doug Fuchs; Selectmen Leon Karvelis; Rosalind Kopfstein, Gail Schiron, Mary Dale Lancaster, Chair plus members of the public (@ 15)

I. The meeting was called to order at 11:38 a.m. by Chair Mary Dale Lancaster in the Heritage Center

II. Minutes of January 6, 2015 were approved as submitted. Motion by Leon Karvelis to approve as written, seconded by Chief Fuchs. Passed unanimously.

III. At the public open meeting, Mary Dale Lancaster provided a brief overview of the Mental Health Task Force (MHTF) Mission and basic background on the need for an LCSW professional in Redding. Currently, students in Redding schools have access to professional supports if their families choose to take advantage of them. Underserved populations include those not attending school and adults who have no access to mental health services. The stigma of seeking help is evident in society and by normalizing the availability of services; more individuals could utilize local, non- threatening access to mental health and addiction resources. Two recommendations were presented.

1. The MHTF recommends that a part-time licensed clinical social worker be hired for the town. The primary function of the proposed part-time social worker would be to provide brief counseling supports so that long-term services could be located. Also, the proposed social worker would act as a referral source with in-depth knowledge of the current mental health systems in place. Lastly, this position would provide public education about where to go for help, and would educate residents about issues concerning who needs help and how to access it.

2. Require Town Supervisory Personnel and those Personnel who deal with Mental Health and Substance Abuse issues to attend the Mental Health First Aid Training Course over period of time. The training is an 8-hour course, with a fixed cost of $50 per person.

IV. The following comments were made by Redding citizens and professionals in our community:
A. Leon Karvelis noted a USA Today (2014) article titled: The Cost of Not Caring- No Where to Go.

B. Liz Jorgensen, Limekiln Road: Psychotherapist and Substance Abuse Counselor. Redding is comparable to other Fairfield County towns regarding the acute need for Mental Health (MH) services. Spoke about the “silent epidemic” of behavioral health problems that is gripping middle aged and elderly people. Reminded us that the higher the per capita income is in a town, the more highly deaths are correlated to overdose, i.e. “Affluenza”. This town has experienced suicides, domestic violence incidents, drug overdoses, there is a definite need for services. Having a LCSW working with schools could be very valuable. There are many students not accessing services. Highest costs in Region 9 Board is out of district placements for children with challenging MH needs. If services were available in town, then costs might be lowered. A LCSW could help families understand how to deal with Mental Illness. It could also alleviate the isolation of the elderly in need with at-home visits. Grants may available, and Liz will help if requested.

C. Kim O’Reilly, Foundry Road. Former director of SW Regional MH Board. Discussed the percentage of adults with MH problems and stated most do not access needed MH services. Working with statistics, at any given time, 235 Redding residents are dealing with serious mental health issues, and 125 do not have access to mental health. Many incidents of substance abuse, alcohol abuse, binge drinkers and heavy drinkers. Recommended a Behavioral Health specialist with expertise with young adults. Connect with regional MH Boards and existing resources in order to locate best services. Recovery rates are high if MH problems are treated with medication, counseling, and social supports. Peer to Peer support programs are helpful. She is concerned about future problems concerning students on the autism spectrum who are not eligible for services from the Dept of Developmental Disabilities because of their higher IQ’s. Recovery from Mental Illness is possible with the right interventions and support from the community.

D. Lisa Reese, Glen Rd: former representative to the Housatonic MH Board. She stated that our residents need more help, and is totally in support of recommendation.

E. Dan Heller, Sport Hill Road. Supports the MHTF recommendations. Likes the idea of a part-time LCSW.

F. Kara Flockhart, John Read Middle School Social Worker. Sees a need to support children who are not in need of special education but who are experiencing other issues such as divorcing parents, a loss of a loved one. She welcomes the opportunity to run support groups for children after school in a community setting.

G. Peter Acton, Pine Mountain Rd: Has family experience with MH issues and would like to know more about available services in CT. Families with mental health issues “don’t know where to go” and have “overwhelming needs”. He would take advantage if an LCSW was available. NAMI – National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is a great resource of information and support for families seeking assistance.

H. Penny Dawson, Sunset Hill Rd: Strongly supports the recommendations and finds this type of service “long overdue”. She stated that it is hard to document the number of people who have used MH services. In her professional career as a professor and nurse, she saw that those who received help experienced positive changes. It is critical to offer hope and identify children in crisis. Prevention is also quite helpful. Conflict resolution programs in schools are helpful in teaching children to problem solve.

I. A number of letters were also submitted:
• Pam Robey, Redding Resident – in favor of MHTF recommendations
• Jill Barberie, LCSW, Redding Resident – in favor of MHTF recommendations
• Margaret O’Donnell, Redding Resident – in favor of MHTF recommendations
• Margaret Brown, Kim O’Rielly, Lisa Reese, Jean Taylor and Peggy Zamore (all Redding Residents, and part of the LWV Mental Health working group) – in favor of MHTF recommendations

V. Our next meeting is on March 5, 2015, Thursday at 2 pm in Town Hall. The Board of Finance meeting will be held at 7: 30 on 3/5/2015 at 7: 30 p.m.
VI. The Selectmen will finalize the budget on Monday March 9, 2015

VII. The meeting adjourned at 12: 47p.m.

Minutes Submitted by Rosalind Kopfstein