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LAC discusses grant complications


Last updated 11/11/2020 at 10:42am

Editor’s note: This version corrects the spelling of the name of Darlene Sellers.

Monday’s meeting of the Hill County Behavioral Health Local Advisory Council was dominated by discussion of a $20,000 grant Hill County received from the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and how that money can be used amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

LAC Chair Andi Daniel said she’s been in contact with Hill County Public Health Director and Health Officer Kim Larson and has been trying to work out how the grant functions and what the funds can be spent on.

She said if the grant is something that is used to reimburse expenses related to mental health related activities by LAC that may be an issue since they doesn’t have access to a significant amount of money so starting major projects may be difficult even with ample reimbursement available via the grant.

Daniel said she’s also looking to clarify what the LAC and its related organizations can do with the funds as they are specifically designated to be for the purposes of information sharing.

“I’m trying to find out how exactly we can spend our money I guess,” she said.

LAC Treasurer Darlene Sellers asked whether LAC would need to be considered or affiliated with a non-profit to receive the funds.

LAC Member Deidre Reiter said she’s been talking to Bullhook Community Health Center CEO Kyndra Hall about that issue.

Daniel said the grant requires some more coordination with the county.

She said she thinks media production on the subject of mental health will be available for funding under the grant, including videos on the subject, which she said would be especially helpful amid the pandemic.

Daniel said she felt bad taking up Larson’s time given the pandemic situation, but she’s not sure who else to speak with.

LAC member Amber Spring said she thinks most kinds of education about mental health including QPR training, and mental health first aid would fit under the information sharing description.

Daniels suggested using funds from the grant to create mental health related public service announcements to run on the local radio station.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Havre President and LAC Member Crystal Laufer said plans should be made when the money issue gets figured out.

Sellers suggested short PSA’s in businesses around town.

Daniel suggested Gary & Leo’s Fresh Foods as a good possibility.

Laufer said NAMI has been running a bi-weekly support group statewide, with their next class Nov. 15 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Zoom.

She said the organization’s conference is also going very well.

Laufer said participation has been high with the last webinar in the conference attended by 55 people from Montana to New York, which she said was surprising and exciting.

She said it’s been a good month for NAMI overall and she’s hoping next year’s conference will be in person in Kalispell.

“NAMI’s doing awesome, we’re getting out there,” she said.

Laufer said NAMI has been holding Zoom classes as well, and she will be sending out info for them as they are organized.

“It’s working out really good right now with Zoom,” she said.

She said NAMI Havre’s Office is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday by appointment only, since she’s the only one there at any given time.

Laufer said she can be reached for appointments by phone or Facebook.

Spring said she has had discussions with people at Montana State University-Northern about the need for mental services and the lack of engagement she’s seen in some of them.

“On campus, we have a lot of people who are struggling, but trying to get them to come to a group or engage with things sometimes is difficult,” she said.

Spring talked about possibly developing more online resources that people can connect with on their own instead of having to join an in-person group, which she said is especially important with so many people sick or quarantined.

She said videos about things like stress reduction and emotional normalization are things that can be used after the pandemic is over as well.

Daniel said she wanted anyone with potential resources to let her know so she can add it there to LAC’s website.

The possibility of The Hill County Early Childhood Investment Team working with LAC on youth activities related to mental health was also discussed, and Spring said that is a great idea especially amid the pandemic.

LAC Member Curtis Smeby also said organizations like this working together is a great idea and it’s something he’d like to see more of in the future.

“NAMI’s doing some great stuff... we need to work more together,” he said.

There was also a brief discussion about the larger organization Behavioral Health Local Advisory Councils in Montana are part of and the future of the Addictive & Mental Disorders Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Smeby said he sees changes and challenges ahead with the new administration with regard to both organizations.

Daniel said the LAC has been extended an invitation to join the Eastern Service Area Authority of Montana as opposed to staying with the Central Service Area Authority, which she said may be beneficial to Havre’s LAC as ESAA has more remote operation infrastructure which could help them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniel said things are still up in the air and no decision was made.


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