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USI Seeks State Support for Windham Regional Clinic to address 248% outpatient  increase

Hartford, CT – United Services, Inc. today joined with members of The State Department on Aging and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to reveal the findings of a yearlong initiative to assess the regional mental health resources vital to the well being of older adults. United Services, Inc. is the Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA) responsible for coordinating community behavioral health services for adults in Northeast Connecticut through DMHAS and in conjunction with other agencies to serve the needs of children.

In addition to serving as a “Behavioral Health Home” provider with the State to help ensure smooth access to physical health services for mental health clients, United Services is proud to be engaged in several initiatives to help foster improved access and assessments for Connecticut seniors.  United Services is the administrator of the state “Gatekeeper” program in Eastern Connecticut, in which United Services accepts confidential referrals for seniors who are identified as potentially needing community behavioral health supports.

United Services was also competitively selected to launch a new demonstration project, to help assess and assist seniors in need of behavioral health services and foster improved physical and mental wellness for all participants. Healthy IDEAS (Identifying Depression, Empowering Activities for Seniors) is an evidence-based program that integrates depression awareness and management into existing case management services provided to older adults.

“Although Connecticut suffers from statewide limitations on mental health resources for seniors, the critical lack of mental health resources to ALL residents of Northeast Connecticut, including older adults remains the most pressing need for our region,” said John J. Goodman, Director of Communications for United Services. “We continue to seek the active support of all in our General Assembly delegation to secure the Governor’s approval of Bond funding that would improve access to behavioral health treatment to their constituents, including Older Americans.”

United Services has been patiently awaiting state Bond Commission assistance to enhance, expand and consolidate child and adult behavioral health services in the Windham region since 2011.  The project, which has been shovel ready since 2012, awaits only the state’s necessary contribution of capital funds to begin construction of a new consolidated and expanded Windham Region Behavioral Health Center.  United Services’ existing Willimantic clinic was constructed in the mid-1950s, and is not ADA compliant, making it very difficult to accommodate individuals in wheelchairs or suffering from other physical disabilities.

In addition to a need for modern facilities to meet new state and federal standards, United Services has also seen their volume of outpatient behavioral health services – just one of dozens of programs offered by the agency – more than double since 2007, increasing 248%.  

A report recently issued by the Eastern Regional Mental Health Board (ERMHB) called upon Governor Malloy to address funding disparities between non-profit LMHAs and state-operated LMHAs, as well as to support United Services’ request for Bond Assistance to help construct a consolidated and expanded Windham Behavioral Health Clinic that would allow United Services to assist both children and parents in the same location and address the region’s alarming growth in demand for outpatient services. Read the ERMHB USI Letter here.

“Although the existing disparities in funding and access to equitable care and services that negatively impact Windham County have yet to be addressed, there is simply no reason for the further inaction of the Governor and General Assembly on this long standing request for state support,” added Goodman, citing a recent Hartford Healthcare community needs assessment that determined that Mental Health is the #1 health priority for Northeastern CT.

While Eastern Connecticut generally ranks behind all other regions of the state with just 165 mental health beds, just 16 of those beds are located in Windham County.  By way of comparison, the DMHAS region that includes New Haven has 562 mental health beds available to residents.  Serious funding disparities between non-profit LMHAs and State operated LMHAs also seriously restrict availability of services to residents of Northeastern Connecticut with Southeastern Connecticut’s state operated LMHA receiving approximately nine times the amount of annual funding as the non-profit LMHA in Northeastern Connecticut, despite serving populations of similar size.