Since 2019, the mayor’s mental health and substance abuse task force and the Trousdale County Health Council have worked together to bring mental health services to Trousdale County.
As a result of their efforts, Volunteer Behavioral Health will soon be opening an office in Hartsville, located at 213 Broadway St.
Last August, the health council was awarded seed money by the Trousdale County Commission to bring mental health services to the area.
“The money that we were so graciously awarded from the county is two years’ seed money,” said Trousdale County Health Council chair and mayor’s mental health and substance abuse task force co-chair Brenda Harper. “At that time, one of the commissioners asked, ‘What will happen if (the mental health services project) cannot be self-sustaining (after two years)?’ What I said to him then, and what I’ll say now is, ‘It will be dependent upon getting members of this community to support it, make referrals, and help people understand that there’s no shame in it. That’s going to be a big ‘we’ kind of project for this county.’ ”
Volunteer Behavioral Health Center Director Shirley Jennings added, “This is a project of the Trousdale County Health Council. We just happened to be the mental health entity that agreed to provide the services. This community has been great by saying, ‘Let’s work together to see what we can do.’ ”
Although the Hartsville office is not yet formally open, Jennings said that Volunteer Behavioral Health is actively helping patients set up services and can still assist them through other means.
“I was hoping to be open by this month, because May is mental health awareness month,” said Jennings. “However, we are not officially open yet. We are waiting on one last little piece of approval. But I’m still hoping we can open this month.
“Although we’re not officially open, we have staff here every day. If someone calls or walks in, we are helping them set up services. We don’t want to turn anyone away. We will still provide services, regardless. In the meantime, we can see them at one of our other locations, or by video, or telephone. We will make it work.”
According to Jennings, the new office will be open Monday through Friday, but the days and hours may change depending on the need.
“The plan is to be open every day,” said Jennings. “But we are going to see what the need is and adapt to the need of the county.”
In addition to counseling, Volunteer Behavioral Health provides multiple other services to the community.
“We also do same-day service, so if somebody needs to be worked in, we will work them in,” said Jennings. “We also provide care management services every day, because care management is a community service. We will either provide that at the office, or that is a service that can also go out to the community if needed.”
Several months ago, Volunteer Behavioral Health began serving inmates at the Trousdale County Jail and has helped train law enforcement officers to recognize mental health and substance abuse issues.
“Our company is also at the jail in Trousdale County,” said Jennings. “We’ve been there for a few months now. We have a grant through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse where we provide a criminal justice liaison who goes into the jail and works with the individuals there. Of course, they have to be willing, because all of our services are voluntary. But we help them transition back into the community.
“We have a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), where mental health professionals and law enforcement work together. It is a 40-hour training. We provide the training for law enforcement to recognize mental health and substance abuse issues that could be treated versus someone going to jail.”
Through grant money, Volunteer Behavioral Health is also providing first aid mental health training to the community.
“We are providing a free mental health first aid training in Hartsville on May 31 (from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.),” said Jennings. “It will be at the community center (located 301 East Main St. in Hartsville). It is for anybody. You don’t have to be a professional to attend. It’s an eight-hour training. We received a grant, so our company will be able to get folks trained. I thought it was important to do that in Trousdale County in May during mental health awareness month.”
For those wishing to attend the mental health first aid training, pre-registration is required. To register, contact Donna Vize by calling 931-743-1995 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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