Panelists outline youth mental health services available in the county

Rod Rose | The Lebanon ReporterSPEAKING WITH SPEAKERS: Boone County Health Department Administrator Cindy Murphy, RN, (standing) follows up with (from left) Angi Johnson, Lynette Clark and Michelle Bergman, who spoke Tuesday at an Indiana Youth Institute forum at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lebanon.

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About 35 people attended a Tuesday seminar that outlined Boone County Cares, which provides mental health services for area youth and their families.

The seminar, held at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lebanon, was sponsored by the Indiana Youth Institute, CASA, Community Foundation of Boone County, United Way and the Indiana Department of Child Services.

“Indiana youth are struggling with depression and other mental health issues,” said Leslie Wells, the youth institute’s media relations manager. In the last year, nearly one in eight Indiana children older than age 5 have received counseling or treatment from a medical health professional, she said. Estimates are that 40 percent of America’s children are not receiving the mental health services they need.

Tuesday’s event was to describe the mental health challenges facing local communities, Wells said.

“By understanding and intervening early, caring adults can stop these issues and help the young people in their communities,” she said.

Speakers included Angi Johnson, director of resources for ASPIRE Indiana in Lebanon; Lynette Clark, director of Integrative Wellness; and Michelle Bergman of Cummins Behavioral Health. All provide services for adults, but Tuesday focused on what they offer for youth and families.

Locally, services are coordinated through Boone County Cares, which was created to help youth with mental health challenges, and their families, find and utilize resources to aid in recovery.

The program operates in all county school districts.

The concept, Clark said, is “building a team to help the needs of the child.”

The framework for Boone County Cares was developed through the System of Care, operated by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

The System of Care is an effort to give Hoosier families improved access to behavioral and mental health services. Within the System of Care are the Children’s Mental Health Initiative and Children’s Mental Health Wraparound programs.

Services provided through either program are similar, Clark said.

Referrals to the programs can come from anyone, Johnson said. “Once a family meets the criteria, they get a menu of providers,” she said. And while the family gets to choose with whom they will work, “The family has to be willing to participate in the process.”

“The family will have to get on board,” Clark emphasized.

The mental health initiative is for children with complex mental or behavioral health needs, who are at risk of entering child welfare or juvenile delinquency, Clark said. Mental health wraparound services provide children who have serious emotional disturbances with access to intensive counseling intended to augment either an existing or recommended treatment plan.

Alyssa Pearson of ASPIRE is Boone County’s access coordinator, Clark said.

Pearson, who will determine what services a child needs, may be reached at 317-587-0589, Clark said.

Referrals are important, even if it isn’t certain that the child is eligible, Clark said. “I think it’s important we track that information.” Referrals also helps the state learn of gaps in coverage, she said.

“We are dedicated to serving the youth here in Boone County,” Bergman said.

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