Behavioral Health shares goals, growth

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Behavioral Health Coordinator, crisis services, Brigitte Kealy, at left, spoke to the members of the Dorchester County Council on May 7 during the group’s annual report. At right is Executive Director Katie Dilley.

CAMBRIDGE — Representatives of Mid Shore Behavioral Health presented their annual report to the Dorchester County Council on May 7. Executive Director Katie Dilley and Behavioral Health Coordinator, crisis services, Brigitte Kealy shared information on the group’s growth, the need for their services, and their goals.

“Our vision is a rural, behavioral health care delivery system that is clinically and culturally competent; a system that will ensure access, have a community focus, be cost effective, and be integrated to serve our community,” Ms. Dilley said.

She said she and Ms. Kealy were presenting during May because it is Mental Health Awareness Month, and that May 7 fell in Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. “We have had a really successful week” getting schools in the area to mark the children’s week, she said.

The need for Mid Shore’s services has increased in recent years. “We’ve really grown almost double,” Ms. Dilley said. “We’re looking at over a $4.5 million increase in the funds we’re managing” from fiscal 2017 to this year, she said, adding that projections show the group will monitor $9.7 million in fiscal 2020.

Much of the increase comes from the expansion of Mid Shore’s crisis response system, in particular their mobile crisis response teams. The teams operate 24/7, with one being based in Dorchester County.

Funds from the state’s Opioid Response Program have also increased the group’s budget. Safe Stations are being considered, in which police or fire stations would be used as sites for the disposal of drugs or paraphernalia and where addicts could seek help to begin their recovery.

In a related project, Mid Shore is asking doctors to prescribe Buprenorphine. “Buprenorphine is used in medication-assisted treatment to help people reduce or quit their use of heroin or other opiates, such as pain relievers like morphine,” the website of the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says.

Ms. Kealy said Mid Shore has opened Gratitude House, a safe- and sober-living house in Cambridge. “It is a five-bed, male residence,” she said.

Care for childhood trauma is also included in Mid Shore’s activities. Training has been conducted as part of the “Handle With Care” model, which studies how educators, law enforcement and medical personnel can better communicate to meet the needs of children.

In this model, the schools would be notified that the child who has had contact with law enforcement or first responders “would need to be handled with care” for the following few days, Ms. Dilley said. “It would be a confidential correspondence among law enforcement, emergency management and the schools to make sure that we are sensitive to something that might have happened to children in the community.”

Dorchester County has expressed interest in getting this concept up and running, she said.

The council agreed unanimously to sign a letter of agreement with Mid Shore Behavioral Health.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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