Filling a Gap
Mental health problems have a way of affecting every part your life. From work and relationships to friends and family, mental illness can seep in and wear you down. But the Miller-Dwan Foundation has its ways, too. By addressing those problems that affect the very core of our being, we fill our region’s most critical healthcare gaps and change people’s lives.
Mental health services in northwestern Wisconsin is one of those gaps. Recent mental health clinic closures have created a severe and ongoing mental health care shortage.
“One of the local outpatient counseling centers [one-on-one therapy] in Superior,” says Essentia Health’s Behavioral Health Operations Manager Mary McClernon, “has a waiting list of hundreds.”
And with the waiting, things only get worse. The longer patients go without the care they need, the sicker they can become, requiring higher levels of care.
“This makes zero healthcare sense, and it makes zero economic sense,” says Miller-Dwan Foundation President, Traci Marciniak.
That’s why the Miller-Dwan Foundation is creating a new mental health program. The program, called Partial Hospitalization Programming (PHP), is a multi-disciplinary, group-based, intensive psychotherapeutic program for adults who are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. Programming will take place for six hours a day, five days a week, for up to three weeks. No overnight stays. And it will all happen in a newly transformed healing environment on the lower level of St. Mary’s Hospital -Superior.
The program’s intensity allows adults to quickly make progress, see results and get back on their feet. “Clients can make a year’s worth of outpatient therapy [one-on-one] progress in the three weeks of a partial hospital program,” says McClernon. “Three weeks gives them a baseline of skills and enough time with staff to plan a program for ongoing care.”
PHP, not currently offered in Superior, can be a step down from full hospitalization or residential treatment, or if appropriate, it can be used in place of full in-patient psychiatric hospitalization. For others, PHP might be a refresher after a relapse of symptoms. Patients may be referred for PHP or they can self-refer. All patients will be individually and comprehensively assessed with each one having an individual treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.
A gift to the Miller-Dwan Foundation designated to the Superior PHP will help create newly renovated healing space specifically designed for compassionate mental health services. The new PHP will:
- Help patients develop communication skills and participate in socialization and support experiences, sometimes for the first time in their lives. This is particularly useful for individuals whose socializing has revolved around using drugs or alcohol;
- Foster emotional and behavioral change;
- Manage medication and other individualized medical care as needed;
- Introduce structure and discipline into their often-chaotic lives;
- Reinforce healthful ways of interacting and coping; and
- Give patients the tools they need to determine a clear plan for future mental wellness and coping.
And as a result, northwestern Wisconsin will experience fewer mental health tragedies.