Every three years, LCPH publishes a Community Health Report that identifies areas we excel as a community and where we can improve. Our 2021 Report and 2019 Community Health Improvement Plan identify behavioral health, including suicide prevention, substance use, and mental health, as a priority area. Here are a few ways that LCPH is engaged in preventing behavioral health crises and creating systems that support our community:
Behavioral Health Systems Improvement
The Behavioral Health Program at LCPH engages with two primary groups for community efforts to identify and improve both the Crisis System and Continuum of Care. These two groups are the Behavioral Health Systems Improvement Leadership Team and the Behavioral Health Local Advisory Council.
Behavioral Health Systems Improvement Leadership Team
This group is a strategic alliance coalition of leaders who are key stakeholders in our community. The goals of the Leadership Team include identifying gaps in providers and services in both the Behavioral Health Crisis Systems and the full Continuum of Care, re-designing the Crisis System utilizing best-practices, and identifying and analyzing data to drive improved well-being for Lewis and Clark County.
Key contributions to date include funding and launching the Mobile Crisis Response Team at St. Peter’s Health in 2020, completion of Lewis and Clark Behavioral Health Crisis Analysis Report in 2021, and SAMHSA best practice planning for improvements to Crisis Response and Stabilization with contributions to the development of the WICHE MT Crisis Facility Report in 2021. The Team continues to work with WICHE Consulting and DPHHS to plan and define crisis pathways for Detention Center, Emergency Room, and Montana State Hospital Diversion. Some of those tools that lead to diversion include expanding trauma-informed response with the Mobile Crisis Response Team, 988 MT Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline (launching July 2022) and defining improved Crisis Response and Stabilization pathways in the County.
Lewis and Clark County Behavioral Health Local Advisory Council Webpage (LAC)
In 2011, the Lewis and Clark Board of County Commissioners passed Resolution 2011-174 authorizing the creation of the Behavioral Health Local Advisory Council (LAC). The purpose of the LAC is to assist in the improvement of Lewis and Clark County Behavioral Health (Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders) services and to review and make recommendations about behavioral health services. The group consists of behavioral health providers, local professionals, and community consumers, who are people with lived experience (or their family members) with behavioral health disorders. The LAC utilizes the four workgroups to guide the work.
Both the LAC and Leaders Team meet monthly and are actively engaged in Lewis and Clark County. The LAC meetings are open to the public, and a meeting link along with contact information is available on the webpage.
BH Crisis Continuum Graph: Lewis and Clark County Behavioral Health Crisis System Analysis, Jones, K, Salemo, K., and Green, B (2021)
Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition
The Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition (LCSPC) exists to empower the entire community to prevent suicide through mental health and suicide prevention education, multi-dimensional projects and programs that address the complexity of the public health problem, and stigma-fighting campaigns. The Coalition supports evidence-based interventions and policies to create a community that is smart about mental health and suicide while serving as a place where loss survivors can heal.
Mental Health Awareness Training is a primary function of Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition. Under a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the program and Coalition deliver free mental health and suicide prevention training to first responders, medical and mental health professionals, and the general community in Broadwater, Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark counties.
Safer Communities Montana (SCM) advocates for suicide prevention in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, and Jefferson Counties through collaboration with the firearm and pharmaceutical communities to reduce means access by people at-risk. SCM does so by providing appropriate suicide prevention tools and training to pharmacies, firearm-related businesses, health providers, and community members.
Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team of Lewis and Clark County Area provides new suicide loss survivors in Lewis and Clark County with practical assistance, resource connection, and hope. A LOSS Team is made up of behavioral health professionals and community members who have lost a loved one to suicide.
The Military Strong Challenge is a military education program for civilians in Broadwater, Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark counties to understand and provide additional support to Service Members, Veterans, and their families. For the challenge, organizations nominate each other to take the online training created by the PsychArmor Institute. The training takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
You can learn more about some of the Coalition’s critical interventions, including LOSS Teams, Safer Communities Montana, and mental health training, at the website.
The Coalition meets from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month via Zoom. Contact Suicide Prevention Coordinator Jess Hegstrom at jhegstrom(at)lccountymt.gov for the link.
Suicide is preventable. Depression is treatable. Mental wellness and recovery are possible.