Montana Public Radio

Mental Health

The number of 911 calls in Bozeman was higher last year than the year before. Many of the calls were related to mental health issuesassaults, domestic disturbances, suicides. Now a first of its kind program two years in the making will pair law enforcement with therapists to prevent mental health emergencies.

Research shows that farmers experience rates of especially high anxiety compared to other jobs. What’s more, farmers in rural areas like Montana often have limited access to mental health resources.

In late April, Montana farmer Michelle Erickson-Jones posted a video to Twitter.

In the video, on a windy day against a green field and overcast sky, Erickson-Jones talks about uncertainty around trade, dropping wheat prices, and her issues finding a therapist.

Montana Behavioral Health Alliance Executive Director Mary Windecker testifies at a state health department listening session in Helena August 1, 2018.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s remaining addiction and mental health care providers had a lot riding on the 2019 Legislature. And they walked away from the session cautiously optimistic that they’ll soon be able to rebound from recent tough times. Almost two years ago the state health department was forced to cut almost $50 million to help balance the state budget.

Providence Health and Services announced Wednesday that it is expanding behavioral health services in all nine of its primary care clinics in western Montana.
(PD)

Providence Health and Services announced Wednesday that it is expanding behavioral health services in all nine of its primary care clinics in western Montana.

The move means more licensed clinical social workers will work in clinics in Missoula, Stevensville, Florence, Ronan and Polson. They’ll work with primary care physicians to improve patient outcomes in the kinds of places most Americans typically don’t go for mental or behavioral health specialty care.

Alcohol, drug and suicide (combined) deaths per 100,000 people in 2017.
National Center for Health Statistics, CDC

A new analysis of the latest federal health statistics says that Montana had the second highest rates of deaths from alcohol in 2017, and substantial growth in its suicide rate that year as well.

Released Tuesday, the “Pain in the Nation Update” from the non-profits Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust says that when it came to growth in the number of deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide combined, Montana and New Jersey led the nation in 2017. Each state saw a greater than 15-percent increase in such deaths.

Students from all three Great Falls high schools rehearse for the upcoming play 'Converge: E Plurbus Unum' in the Great Falls High School auditorium Jan. 30, 2019
Eric Whitney / MTPR

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this web post mis-identified a student, that photo has been removed, he correct photo is below.

The beautiful Gothic Revival auditorium at Great Falls High School, built in 1930, has huge, high ceilings, a balcony and 1,200 seats facing a broad proscenium stage. On a recent visit here, like on many winter evenings in high schools across Montana, students are rehearsing for an upcoming play.

An woman holds a sign during a picket of Western Montana Mental Health Center in Missoula, Dec. 18, 2017, following state budget cuts to mental health services.
Olga Kreimer

Montana lawmakers met today to start setting the budget for programs that help people with mental illness or drug and alcohol use disorders.

State health department officials say in recent years the administration has increased Montanans’ access to mental health care with the help of Medicaid expansion.

At the podium, Julie Kelso, a Billings Clinic psychiatrist, announces the $250,000 donation on Dec. 10, 2018. (L to R) John Doran, BCBS Montana; Eric Arzubi, Billings Clinic psychiatrist; and Jim Ducan, President of Billings Clinic Foundation.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Montana’s first-ever medical residency program for psychiatrists received a quarter-million-dollar gift Monday. Advocates are hopeful that establishing residencies will grow the number of mental health professionals in the state.

Until recently, Montana was one of only three states in the country without a program to train psychiatrists. The other two, Alaska and Wyoming, are also among the top three places for suicides per capita - Montana is at the top of that list.

The Montana Healthcare Foundation has pledged $1.2 million to help pregnant women receive addiction and behavioral health treatment.
Montana Healthcare Foundation

Pregnant women in Montana should have a lot easier time getting help for addiction and mental health problems if $5 million in grant funding announced Monday works as intended.

Most of the money is coming from the federal government, but at least $1.2 million has been pledged by the Montana Healthcare Foundation.

Mental health services.
Flickr user Publik15 (CC-BY-SA)

 

Organizations that provide care for people with mental health problems in Montana say they’ve reached an agreement with the state health department to redesign a big portion of the system they work in. 

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