St. Joseph Behavioral Health (SJBH), the mental health provider of the Lutheran Health Network, offers a variety of services for a wide range of conditions for adults age 18 and older. Programs are designed to help patients free themselves from the emotional or psychological disorders and/or chemical dependencies that keep them from living life to its fullest. According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, one in five adults experiences a mental health condition each year.
“People often think of mental illness as a mental weakness and not the treatable disease it is,” says Rogher Hargus, BSW, MSSA, executive director of St. Joseph Behavioral Health. “Mental illness is the result of an alteration in the brain’s chemistry in conjunction with psychosocial stressors that occur in everyday life. And it’s very common. We need to keep our whole bodies healthy, not just our physical bodies. People should never feel embarrassed or ashamed for seeking treatment for their mental health.”
According to Hargus, there are varying degrees of mental illness. Conditions can range from mild (little interference with daily routine) or moderate (daily functionality is affected) to severe (incapacitated and/or a danger to self or others). Treatment programs are designed to help patients identify the clinical issues triggering their distress and understand the causes. Treatment is then provided by a multidisciplinary team based on the intensity of the symptoms. A psychiatrist oversees all individualized care plans, licensed therapists conduct therapy sessions, activity therapists assist with skill-development projects, and registered nurses monitor medications and educate patients.
“For milder symptoms, outpatient counseling or medication is usually effective,” says Hargus. Adults, adolescents and children who need help dealing with everyday situations can get one-on-one outpatient counseling. Board-certified psychiatrists, psychiatric-certified nurse practitioners and licensed therapists care for patients with issues such as anxiety, depression, family problems, hormonal disturbances, obsessive compulsive disorder and stress.
“For moderate symptoms, we currently offer two intensive outpatient therapy programs for adults, one for mental health conditions and one for substance abuse issues,” Hargus adds. “Patients attend one-hour group sessions three times a week during the day, and we plan to develop an evening program in the near future.”
“When symptoms become so severe for adult patients that they can no longer care for themselves on a daily basis, or they become a danger to themselves or others, inpatient treatment is needed,” Hargus says. “Conditions such as acute anxiety and panic attacks, bipolar disorders, chemical dependencies and addictions, depression and schizophrenia are treated in the inpatient setting.”
SJBH also offers Generations, an inpatient program housed on the sixth floor of St. Joseph Hospital. Generations was designed to meet the emotional and medical needs of older adults suffering from acute psychiatric problems, such as dementia with complications, disruptive behaviors, confusion, delirium, depression and agitation. Patients who also need medical care for other conditions benefit from having St. Joseph Hospital services close by.
A new service, a 24/7 intake program that offers quick and easy access to all SJBH programs, is slated to begin later this year. The intake team, which includes licensed clinicians, will work with referral sources to facilitate timely assessments and coordinate smooth admissions.
“Our goal is to break away from the stigma that mental health issues are something to be ignored,” Hargus concludes. “We want to encourage people to seek help when mental illness strikes. It can be treated and we want everyone to live full and rewarding lives!”