CHAS Health and the Lewis and Clark Health Center are preparing to conduct a behavioral health needs assessment for the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, funded by a $100,000 grant from Regence Health Plans.
The needs assessment aims to involve stakeholders, including community members, healthcare providers and law enforcement, in determining unmet behavioral health needs in the community, said Michael Wiser, Chief Strategy Officer at CHAS Health.
The idea for the assessment grew out of earlier discussions about the potential addition of a behavioral health clinic in the Valley similar to the CHAS Behavioral Health Clinic in Spokane, he said.
“Quality behavioral health there, they felt like they had good access in terms of offering the kinds of services that we were talking about as part of an (LCHC),” Wiser said. “So that led us to say, ‘We don’t want to open a new clinic or a new service if we’re not really aligned with the needs and wants of the community.’ So we basically paused on that and said, ‘We need to understand a bit more.’”
Still, CHAS staff at LCHC said they saw a need for additional behavioral health services. Several other more generalized local needs assessments have also ranked behavioral health care as a top priority in recent years. What remains unclear is exactly what kind of help would be most beneficial.
CHAS is already aware of some challenges, including a staff who, while able to meet some behavioral health needs, cannot meet a high volume of patients for regular sessions. CHAS also does not have a chemical dependency or substance abuse counselor, and some staff have said it can be difficult for patients to connect to care.
The assessment can answer the question of whether certain behavioral health needs could be met through better coordination between different health clinics or more counseling patients about existing care options, he said. It could also provide better information about mental health care for children.
“Often with mental illness, the very impacts of mental illness make it harder for people to follow referrals and find resources,” Wiser said.
This report is made possible by the Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation in partnership with Northwest Public Broadcasting, the Lewiston Tribune and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Sun can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Rachel_M_Sun.