Plateau residents will see an expansion of services available to those suffering from mental illness and family members caring for someone in a crises.
The services include education for family, police, educators and medical personal. There will also be more professional services available for those needing treatment.
The two sources for the growth of services are Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation, which received a $182,000 three-year grant for mental health initiatives on the Plateau from Catholic Health Initiatives. Also Valley Cities, a community behavioral health center, is opening a clinic in Enumclaw at 1335 Cole St. The clinic is expected to open in April.
Shelly Pricco, RN, the Mental Health Community resource coordinator for the foundation, outlined three goal for the grant. Pricco said the first goals is improving treatment and support services.
The second goal is to increase the mental health literacy in the community, which includes police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other health care providers.
The third goal is to increase the mental health literacy of the broader communities.
The plan is to improve awareness of mental illness and reduce the stigma attached to those with mental health problems.
Pricco said improving gatekeeper skills is an important part of the plan. A gatekeeper is a person trained in the symptoms of mental illness who can assist both an individual in crises, family members and others in the community.
There are a number of programs and facilities the foundation will provide to the community with the help of the grant funds.
• In March the foundation is beginning a 12-session education program called National Alliance on Mental Illness Family to Family. The class is geared for families who are supporting individuals 16 and older.
The program is free and the first session is 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 1 at the Buckley Fire Station, 611 Division St, Buckley.
The release for the program stated the class is for family members, partners, friends, and significant others of adults living with mental illness. It is designed to help them understand and support their loved ones, while maintaining their own well-being. The class will cover medications, information about the major mental illnesses, how to navigate mental health systems and coping strategies for family members.
For information call 253-740-8393, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the foundation website www.rfwellnessfoundation.org.
• There will be a senior companion program for those living in Pierce County. The program matches senior volunteers who can take a senior to the grocery store, help around his or her home, take a person to community events or lunch. The program is designed to help provide assistance to those who are frail and homebound along with enhancing the lives of low income seniors. For information about the program call 360-802-3206
• Kognito is described as an online, interactive professional development program. It uses virtual role-play to help middle school and high school faculty, staff and administrators learn common signs of psychological distress and how to approach an at-risk student for referral to the school counselor.
• The foundation is setting up a suicide awareness program called, “Question, Persuade, and Refer: Suicide Awareness and Prevention” known as QRP. The goal of the program is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing practical and proven suicide prevention training. Like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone with suicidal thoughts or feeling suicidal.
• Mental health first aid is a foundation plan to provide classes for anyone interested in how to assist a person in a mental health crises. One class is directed toward helping adolescents age 12-18 and the other for adults.
The youth class is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents. The eight-hour class is open to any interested group free of charge.
The adult first aid class teaches risk factors, warning signs for mental health and addiction along with strategies for how to help someone and where to get professional help.
For information on the first aid classes call the foundation at 360-802-3206.