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Behavioral Health: August 20, 2011

These are trying times, mental health workers agree.

“There are crises, we see a lot of individuals now that have had losses of jobs, losses of income, losses of housing or foreclosures and that creates a lot of stress emotional stress,” says Dr. Omar Rieche, medical director and psychiatrist with The Behavioral Health Center.

Faced with an increasing demand, it is a challenge to provide enough resources.

“I think this community has many gaps in services and I think that there’s a huge need to serve people with mental health problems in this area,” says Debra Mathews, director of operations with The Behavioral Health Center.

It is in part why Lee Memorial Health System took over an existing mental health practice and formed The Behavioral Health Center. A team of licensed counselors and social workers are equipped to meet a wide variety of needs.

“When we have someone come to visit us for the first time we’ll put them through an intake process which includes a very detailed bio-psycho-social assessment and that will ferret out what their service needs are,” says Mathews.

The facility has two distinct facets:

One provides comprehensive therapy in a partial hospitalization setting. Patients come on average six hours every weekday, get intensive treatment, then go home.

“Having the opportunity for patients to go back home with their families and then get that feedback as to how they’re doing, and then come back to the to the treatment in the partial program is really very vital,” says Dr. Rieche.

The Behavioral Health Center also offers an outpatient clinic. Moving into the mental health arena made sense for the health system, which previously referred patients here from their emergency room. Similarly, the health system is poised to address related medical problems that patients might present.

“There are many illnesses that can have an overlap, where you have an emotional or psychological component with a physical component,” says Dr. Rieche.

Filling a community-wide void one individual at a time.