Mental health providers join forces to help clients

A new partnership between two local mental health providers will help clients learn to live independently through more hands-on care.

A collaboration between Centerstone and Milestones Clinical & Health Resources was forged for the Skills Development program, which is operated by Milestones and improves skills in areas such as emotional control, stress, time management, conflict resolution, problem solving and other components of daily living.

With the new partnership, the program can work with individuals in a hands-on atmosphere, said Jennifer Hammond, the Skills Development coordinator at Milestones.

Clients in the program need to be observed by a community mental health center such as Centerstone. Milestones is not a community mental health center but a mental health division of Stone Belt Arc — one of the largest providers for individuals with developmental disabilities in south-central Indiana. Milestones works specifically with individuals who have mental and intellectual disabilities.

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The partnership combines the clinical strengths of the two mental health providers, Hammond said.

Milestones wanted to work with Centerstone because the company is local and provides good work within the mental health field, Hammond said.

Centerstone serves about 18 Indiana counties, mostly south of Indianapolis, including Bartholomew County. Services range from outpatient therapy and counseling to intensive community-based treatments, along with addictions and substance abuse, said Abbi Powell, Child and Family Services manager at Centerstone.

With the partnership for the Skills Development program, providers will be right there with the client, and if a frustrating or anxiety-producing scenario occurs they are there to coach clients and teach them the necessary skills to manage their mental health symptoms, Hammond said.

“These are skills that they can practice with a provider, and a provider can come and reinforce and help them through so that at another point in their life they can do some of those things independently, and not have to rely on providers and other people in their life to do other things for them or to help them through,” Powell said.

About 60 clients — from preschool through adulthood — are in the Skills Development program, with another 30 on the waiting list from the Columbus area. Additional clients are on a waiting list in other geographic areas as well, Hammond said. In order to help more clients, the program is trying to expand by hiring additional staff in Columbus and Bloomington.

With the partnership, Powell and Hammond meet regularly to discuss the program and cases, Hammond said. Centerstone also provides a psychologist that meets with Hammond’s team on a regular basis. Having the ability to reach out and get that level of support has been one of the best parts of the partnership, Hammond said.

“I’m excited because Centerstone has a good clinical focus. Our program is going to benefit from their clinical support,” Hammond said.

In order to qualify for the program, a client must have active Medicaid health insurance — either primary or secondary coverage — and a qualifying diagnosis, Hammond said. Depression, anxiety and most mood disorders are among qualifying diagnoses, but autism and intellectual disabilities alone do not qualify, she added.

However, parents with autistic children who are interested should still seek an intake interview with Powell to see if they qualify, Hammond said.

“There is a good chance that their child may have another diagnosis that would qualify, so I don’t want people to not attempt to access services because of that,” Hammond said.

Centerstone also has staff members who are well versed in Medicaid and can answer questions about disorders that qualify, and who also can recommend other services for those who don’t qualify, Powell said.

For more information

Anyone interested in Skills Development services should contact Jennifer Hammond at: 812-333-6324, ext. 188 or email jhammond@stonebelt.org.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.