BLOOMINGTON — A proposal from the county's Behavioral Health Coordinating Council would provide mental health services to teens and their families.
The intensive outpatient service program was outlined to the council Friday by Trisha Malott, council supervisor.
Youths ages 13 to 18 who have been hospitalized in a mental health facility and those at risk for such care would receive treatment and support. Too often youth are released from the hospital without a plan for their transition back to school and the community, said Malott.
"There's a big difference between what life is like when you're hospitalized and when you go back to school," said Malott.
The program would handle up to 20 youths at one time for services provided through a collaboration of local providers. It is anticipated that services would be short term, approximately 10 to 14 days.
A subcommittee of local providers and stakeholders in youth services spent six months reviewing areas of need and settled on outpatient services as the top priority, said Malott.
Advocate BroMenn Medical Center President Colleen Kannaday said the new option for mental health care is a much-needed community resource.
"I'm continually astounded at the number of adolescents in the emergency room for psychiatric reasons and the number who are transferred out of the area for services on a daily basis," said Kannaday, a council member.
Families with children who are hospitalized outside McLean County feel stress on many levels, starting with transportation, said council member Sonja Reece.
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"Simple things, like how do you get them across the state to see their kids when they're hospitalized," must be addressed, said Reece.
The effort to boost mental health services for youths is part of the county's 2015 Mental Health Action Plan. Greater collaboration and improvements to crisis services, supportive housing and child and adolescent care were among the priorities outlined in the plan.
The BHCC agreed to send the proposal to the County Board's executive committee for a possible recommendation to the full county board. The county would then seek proposals from local providers.
A new clinic operated by the county could lessen the impact of the community's shortage of psychiatric services. Telepsychiatry, a service that allows clients to meet with a doctor through a video link, will be available under a partnership with a private firm, said Mallot.
The clinic will not be connected to the health department or a mental health triage center set to open later this summer but the clinic will be housed in the county's 200 West Front Street building where the two agencies are located. The facility will accept referrals but people also will be able to make appointments directly with the county service.
No opening date has been set for the clinic.
The council is making plans for its annual community mental health forum set for Oct. 17.