Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center (SPVMHC) offers various services in different counties including locally via the Fayette County Clinic — services that have continued through the pandemic.
The Record-Herald recently had an interview with three staff members of SPVMHC: Substance Abuse Specialist/Mental Health Therapist Julie C. Ream (LSW, LCDC III, OCPSA), Executive Director Barbara Mahaffey (PhD, LPCC-S), and Associate Director Gena Bates (LPCC-S).
According to the interviewees, there was a dip in people seeking services at the beginning of the pandemic, but those numbers have been rising as people start leaving home again.
The Fayette County Clinic, located at 1300 E. Paint St. in Washington Court House, offers outpatient counseling services, case management, emergency services, psychiatric services, partial hospitalization services, substance abuse services and residential/transitional services, according to paperwork from clinic officials.
“We have a whole gamut of people that are here with a mission of helping people for the highest level of functioning — taking care of mental health and mental-health related adjustment concerns,” said Ream.
Counseling services are offered for adults, children, adolescents, married couples, groups and families.
Case management (CPST) is offered to adults, children and families to provide supportive, rehabilitative, and ongoing care on an outpatient basis.
Emergency services provide 24-hour crisis intervention by telephone or walk-in.
Psychiatric services are scheduled when another provider believes an individual may benefit from prescription medication, according to the paperwork.
Partial Hospitalization services, also known as Day Treatment, are designed to help individuals avoid psychiatric hospitalization.
Substance abuse services provide individual, family or group outpatient counseling services for those with alcohol or drug problems.
“There’s a mental health issue that happens before (individuals) start using substances, and a lot of people see the tip of the iceberg,” said Mahaffey. “A lot of (substance use disorders) stem from people trying to medicate some kind of emotional or physical pain.”
Bates explained, “you see a very high co-occurrence of substance use and mental illness.”
Residential/transitional services provide alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization and assist individuals in returning home or back to their community after psychiatric hospitalization.
According to Mahaffey, Fayette County residents can be referred to and housed in three residential treatment programs located in Chillicothe and Greenfield. There is a residential mental health facility named the Floyd Simantel Clinic, an alcohol and other drug treatment facility named The Rulon Center for men, an alcohol and other drug residential facility named the Lynn Goff Clinic for women, and a Crisis Center that operates 24/7.
“One of the things that I am most proud of about Scioto Paint Valley is that we are almost all-encompassing. We provide all the services at all the different levels of care—just about,” said Bates.
Local medical providers at the hospital and the local jail work with the Fayette Clinic when there is an individual who needs mental health services. There is also an option for court-ordered assessment/treatment and a 72-hour psychiatric hold.
“As health officers, we (are able to) deem them to be a threat to themselves or others. They are then hospitalized for a minimum of 72 hours,” said Ream. “Licensed clinicians are all health officers.”
Typically done outside the clinic building, drug- and alcohol-use prevention programs are held for the Miami Trace Local School District. New this year, according to Bates, is providing prevention programs virtually rather than in-classroom due to the pandemic.
School prevention programs aren’t the only services switched to virtual. All therapy services are being offered virtually with face-to-face appointments being offered as needed. The clinic did not shut down during the pandemic as it was (and still is) considered essential.
“We’re slowly starting to open up more and more, and we have staff getting vaccinated. Things are getting safer for face-to-face,” said Bates.
Bates explained virtual options will most likely continue to be offered in the future for those who prefer it.
Separate from the rest of the clinic’s responsibilities, SPVMHC received a grant to operate a COVID hotline during the pandemic for individuals to call with any COVID-related questions — a line that is still active.
The activity and services offered by SPVMHC are not new to the 21st century.
According to Mahaffey, SPVMHC has been in existence since 1966 when the Paint Valley Guidance Center was opened in Chillicothe. In the 1970s, the center changed to the SPVMHC and expanded into five counties in 1978.
“It was in 1980 when the (Fayette) county commissioners were given funds to buy this land, build this building (current Fayette Clinic location) for the specific use of a mental health clinic through the Ohio Department of Mental Health (which is what it was called back then) and is now called Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services,” said Mahaffey.
Financially, according to documents from Mahaffey, SPVMHC has paid $476,000 to Fayette County in form of rent payments since May of 1981. There has been $148,726.69 invested in capitalized maintenance of the building and an additional $143,331.60 invested in expensed maintenance costs.
Funds used for that maintenance and rent were financed through an ADAMH Board Levy passed by Fayette County voters. SPVMHC is a private and nonprofit agency that contracts for only a portion of its services from the Paint Valley ADAMH Board.
The five-county ADAMH Board levy will be up for renewal during the general election in November of this year. More information on the levy specifics will be reported closer to the election.
“A lot of people misunderstand — they think that we are the ADAMH Board,” said Mahaffey.
She further explained there have been instances where people express confusion as they voted for the ADAMH Board levy but those funds did not purely go to the SPVMHC Fayette Clinic. The funds from the levy go to various agencies as SPVMHC is only one contracted entity with the board.
Ream explained that Fayette County has always supported the levy and the need for mental health care.
When asked at what point someone should come in for assistance or call in crises, Mahaffey explained, “anytime they are stressed or distressed, because that affects not only your family life but your social life, and your work life, and your mental health. So, we encourage people to call early, call often, and call when you need it.”
Bates said, “and if you see it have an impact on your life — maybe you’re finding it hard to go to work, or you’re not able to concentrate, you’re not able to feel a connection with the ones around you, people you love—those are definite warning signs.”
Mahaffey further explained, “a lot of people don’t realize depression and anxiety, each of themselves, are more common than the common cold. People don’t realize, for the most part, people slide into depression for two years before they realize that they are, because the brain lies to you about being depressed. Now anxiety—that’s more noticeable. Family will say, ‘oh you’re anxious.’ But people with depression can have a wide variety of symptoms and it be hidden a lot easier, and it’s a lot more problematic.”
To reach the local clinic, call 740-335-6935. To reach the 24-hour emergency services crisis hotline, call 740-335-7155. For information and referral, call 2-1-1. There is also a box at the front door with admission packets that can be filled out and turned in.
SPVMHC is offering TeleHealth and telephone outpatient counseling services during weekdays and some evenings. Most insurances, including Medicare and the Medicaid companies, are accepted, and there is a sliding pay scale to help with affordability of care. Due to COVID cautions, SPVMHC is requesting that incoming clients call first for initial contact.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.