Wasatch Mental Health – A Success Story 50 Years in the Making!

Lisa SchumacherArticles

Wasatch Mental Health: a success story 50 years in the making  (WMH State of the Center 2018)

by Juergen Korbanka, Ph.D. and WMH Executive Director

Our “50 Years of Service” anniversary has many of us reminiscing about WMH then and now. A stroll down memory lane illustrates the dramatic growth of our organization and reflects the growth of the county as a whole.

The last 50 years have changed many facets of behavioral health services. After the deinstitutionalization in the 1960’s, advances in psychotropic medications allowed for targeting more precisely specific symptoms while managing side effects. Psychotherapy techniques have been refined and studied and are now evidence based and empirically validated.

Treatment approaches are now much more refined and specific to a particular diagnosis. Similarly, treatment outcome assessments are now routinely administered documenting the high efficacy of behavioral health interventions. Psychosocial rehabilitation programs, focusing on obtaining housing, returning to work, and engaging in meaningful daily activities are now a staple in the treatment of serious mental illness.

Over the last several decades, the notion of recovery, suggesting that individuals suffering from a mental illness can and do recover, has shifted the focus of treatment from symptom maintenance and disease management to one of hope and recovery.

The vast advances in technology have led to a different service delivery and documentation landscape. Electronic health records, allowing clinicians to access and review charts immediately and remotely has greatly enhanced treatment planning and record keeping.

Just look at some of the impressive results we are able to celebrate this year:

• Provided services to 10,099 individuals (approximately a 2.5% increase).
Admitted 6,304 individuals to services (a 7.5% increase).
• Provided over $1 million worth of services to the un- and underinsured.
• In January 2018 we opened our office building in Payson, Utah to facilitate access to services and co-locate with allied agencies.
• Wasatch Mental Health was recognized by Utah Valley University Social Work department as Community Agency of the Year
• Continued collaboration with DCFS and JJS to provide a Systems of Care treatment approach
• Services were offered to children on the GIANT Steps waiting list through an in-home program
• Wasatch Mental Health participated with the Utah County Jail and the Food & Care Coalition to implement the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) that serves to coordinate care during and after incarceration.
• Implemented routine suicide ideation screenings and an integrated safety plan process
Provided information, education, and resources through community presentation and events well over 50 times.
• Obtained a “no findings” audit for the 9th consecutive (!) year from the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
• WCFC and the Wasatch Wellness Coalition provided the 1st Mental Health Awareness event in Wasatch County which included a movie night with a panel of speakers dealing with mental health issues, QPR classes in Spanish and English and media interviews on television, radio and print.

These highlights are truly impressive. Nonetheless, at the heart of our services, despite all of the significant achievements and advances in technology, are the human relationships we build with our clients and collaborative partners.

We thank the community for building and maintaining these relationships.