HELENA — On Aug. 24 the Lewis and Clark Healthy Together task force shared an update on the community health improvement plan that started in 2018. The community health improvement plan focuses on a few main points, like improving access to behavioral health services and childcare services. Though the COVID-19 Pandemic has created challenges working through the plan, Lewis and Clark Public Health Officer, Drenda Niemann, said they've made strides.
The Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition has taken the lead on one of the goals, which is reducing the stigma surrounding behavioral health challenges and the conversations that come with those topics, through programs like their military strong campaign and QPR training, a program that helps people recognize signs of mental distress.
Another is incorporating nearly 70 agencies to the Montana CONNECT system to create more access to services for patients. Niemann said the progress the task force has made on this goal will only help people get the help they need.
“The CONNECT referral system really puts the onus on the agencies to reach out to the individual and bring them in and ask, 'Are you ready for an appointment?' and 'Let's get you scheduled,'" said Niemann. "So rather than waiting for that individual to pick up the phone and call, the agency calls them.”
Another main point the task force is working on with Elevate Montana, the Zero to 5 Initiative and the Early Childhood Coalition is to create awareness surrounding Adverse Childhood Experiences and how they affect children as well as working to improve and create more high-quality childcare in the community.