SUBSCRIBE TODAY AND SAVE $1 for 6 months of unlimited news

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

North-central Minnesota partners to address mental health care service access

With the mental health care system needing additional resources, people aren’t able to receive the services they need, or before reaching a crisis. Besides access to a mental health professional, barriers like transportation, child care, open hours, cost of services and finding where to get services create difficulties in receiving care.

Service Capacity Mental Health Needs Assessment.PNG
Inpatient mental health beds are not provided or regularly unavailable in the region as 49% of providers said. Screenshot / Greater State of Mind Mental Health Needs Assessment

WADENA — Region 5 leaders are planning more partnerships to offer the services people need in a mental health crisis.

A recent partnership included Wadena, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison and Todd counties with Sourcewell and the Center for Behavioral Health Integration on a mental health needs assessment . Providers, consumers and community partners like human services, local health departments, school districts, criminal justice and child welfare organizations participated in the regional " Greater State of Mind " assessment.

Some of the key barriers to accessing mental health care are lack of staffing, wait times, limited inpatient beds, transportation, denying the need and costs.

While removing these barriers have long been goals in the area, the assessment confirmed where organizations, providers and consumers see gaps in the mental health care system. The future projects, which will take years, are in the discussion and planning stages.

“The assessment was really to just see where we are at currently and just take a snapshot of how far have we come, where do we still need to be pushing? What do we need to be pushing towards?” said Danielle Wadsworth, Sourcewell regional contract specialist and Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative (AMHI) program coordinator. She regularly works with and supports county human services and health departments along with the AMHI.

ADVERTISEMENT

The AMHI has representatives from the six counties and the Leech Lake Band and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal nations who regularly connect with community members and providers on addressing mental health needs as well as funding discussions. There are 19 mental health initiatives in Minnesota .


"There are helpers."

— Jennifer Westrum, Wadena County Human Services director


“We have been searching for solutions to our mental health crisis in the region. Meaning we have a lack of mental health beds … and limited access to the services that people who are struggling with mental health issues desperately need,” said Jennifer Westrum, Wadena County Human Services director. “This is no different than if we didn’t have access to medical care. It is sound medical care.”

Greater State of Mind Assessment Participants.png
In the Region V+ mental health needs assessment, 247 individuals responded starting in June 2021. Some of the key barriers to accessing mental health care are lack of staffing, wait times, limited inpatient beds, transportation, denying the need and costs. Contributed / Center for Behavioral Health Integration

Across Minnesota, inpatient mental health beds have dwindled as “good intentions” are “not working,” as Westrum said. She has worked with mental health services for 24 years. Inpatient mental health beds are not provided or regularly unavailable in the region —as 49% of providers said. People experiencing a mental health crisis have often waited hours to transfer out of the emergency department and now children, adolescents and adults are waiting weeks in emergency rooms, as Westrum said.

With the mental health care system needing additional resources, people aren’t able to receive the services they need, or before reaching a crisis. Consumers said case management, individual therapy, psychiatric med management, intake appointments and group therapy had service limitations. Providers said crisis services, family therapy and psychiatric assessments are the most difficult about 15-18% of the time.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of being able to meet client needs, 84% of providers said intakes are usually possible. Of the consumers surveyed, intake services were requested and started within seven days.

Besides access to a mental health professional, barriers like transportation, child care, open hours, cost of services and finding where to get services create difficulties in receiving care. Consumers listed transportation as the top barrier to mental health services, along with 47% of community partners and 44% of providers saying transportation assistance is sometimes unavailable.


"It doesn’t matter if you are a child, an adolescent or an adult, we just don’t have the bed capacity that is needed."

— Jennifer Westrum, Wadena County Human Services director


Another “pain point” is the workforce shortage, as Wadsworth described, both in having staff available and making people aware of the positions open. Of the providers, 68% said there are not enough staff. Consumers said staff return calls within 24 hours, are able to see a psychiatrist when needed and receive the services needed. Providers said they enjoy coming to work and find their job fulfilling, and 73% said they sometimes feel burned out.

“They want to be able to provide a service in a timely manner for those consumers that are reaching out to them, and through the results and the data they felt like they might have been missing the mark but interestingly enough those consumers felt like when they reach out to someone they do get the help that they need,” Wadsworth said. “Maybe it’s an appointment that’s not happening as quickly as the provider would like but the consumer is feeling heard and able to know that they’re moving forward.”

The assessment also showed there are not dedicated places where community partners and providers can come together consistently to address mental health needs across the system, according to a Sourcewell news release.

ADVERTISEMENT


"It’s ok that you’re feeling this way, and here’s how we would like to help when you feel up to it and when you’re ready."

— Danielle Wadsworth, Sourcewell regional contract specialist and Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative program coordinator


In Wadena County, new mental health businesses have responded to needs and opened to support more people and address more needs. Within the last two years, All Seasons Wellness, Birch Lake Counseling, the Hope Center and Imagine Mental Health opened in Wadena with providers who have long worked as mental health professionals. These join the services of Northern Pines Mental Health, Tri-County Health Care Behavioral Health and Wadena County Human Services. It's more than doubled the options available to those in need.

RELATED ARTICLES:

At Human Services, children and adult mental health case managers are available. The voluntary service helps arrange transportation, child care, finding a therapist and coordinating evaluations from mental health professionals. You can contact Human Services at 218-631-7605 to have your case screened and learn about a case manager.
“(The mental health system is) not user-friendly, it’s not available when people need it the most. People may not have an understanding of how broken it is, and you don’t understand it until you need it,” Westrum said. “That’s what happens to so many families. They don’t understand that the services they may need are not available, not because of something they have done, just because the system has not kept up with what is needed with the state.”

The key in moving forward to address these barriers: collaboration. Wadsworth and Westrum said communities need to work towards common goals together to change the mental health care system. Community partnerships will help remove identified barriers and additional barriers as ideas from the region and worldwide are shared.

While all the people involved in and funding for upcoming projects aren’t fully known, Wadsworth said people willing to share their knowledge, resources and experiences has been an “empowering” and positive response.

“We also recognize there’s been so much work already done,” Wadsworth said, “so how do we keep building off of those efforts and make them bigger and push them harder to … break down those barriers and solve those challenges that some of our consumers and providers are facing?”

What can we as a community do? You can be a listening ear and share about available resources. You can also sign up online to be involved with the "Greater State of Mind" group.


"“I really think it depends on who is listening and who's talking and just who's at the table?"

— Mental health leader in Greater State of Mind Assessment director


“One of things we’re seeing more and more is people are talking about the issues with mental health and while there still is a stigma attached, I think the stigma is becoming less and less. Everyone knows someone who struggles with mental health issues,” Westrum said. “It’s our family, it’s our friends, and we need to continue to have the conversation because the more we talk about it the more we can work together to try and problem solve the issues and make resources available for people who need them most.”

“It’s just breaking that down to let people know it’s ok that you’re feeling this way, and here’s how we would like to help when you feel up to it and when you’re ready,” Wadsworth said.

During a time of processing or tough time, Westrum encourages people to talk to someone you trust .

“If anyone is struggling, reach out to your medical provider, a mental health professional, someone in the ministry, a teacher,” Westrum said. “There are helpers. We just need to find them.”

For more information on the regional mental health needs assessment, visit region5mentalhealth.com/home/greater-state-of-mind . For resources in the Region V area, visit region5mentalhealth.com/resources/ .


"How do we keep building off of those efforts and make them bigger and push them harder to … break down those barriers and solve those challenges that some of our consumers and providers are facing?"

— Danielle Wadsworth, Sourcewell regional contract specialist and Region V+ Adult Mental Health Initiative program coordinator


Resources

  • All Seasons Wellness: 218-631-5929

  • Hope Center (Wadena): 218-631-7693

  • Imagine Mental Health Counseling: 218-632-4300

  • Northern Pines Mental Health Center: 218-631-1714 or for appointments 320-639-2025 or 833-316-0698

  • Tri-County Behavioral Health: 218-632-8779

  • Wadena Area Family Counseling (at St. Ann’s): 844-816-1847 or 320-253-3540

  • Wadena County Human Services: 218-631-7605

  • Mobile crisis teams: Call **274-747 for an in-person counselors for short-term crises

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255, press 1 for veteran crisis line or text MN to 741741, available 24/7

Related Topics: WADENA COUNTY
What to read next
Since 2007, Operation Round Up has awarded $479,370 and has proved to be a valuable charitable fundraising program.
Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in all Lions District 5M9 school districts were eligible to create an 18x 24"poster. The subject could be on drug or alcohol prevention, awareness, stopping violence, volunteering, citizenship, or any aspect of life and growing up.
The Point in Time Count is an important part of the statewide plan to end homelessness, examine trends and help better understand how to target resources.
You can see if the spelunkers escape the cave in a public performance on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium as well as at subsections on Jan. 29. The performances are free.