The Board of Directors of Lakes Region Mental Health Center (LRMHC) held their 52nd Annual Meeting, “Embracing the Growing Years” on October 23, 2018 at the Common Man Inn & Spa in Plymouth, NH. Three new board members were welcomed to LRMHC: Matt Humer of Citizens Health Initiative and the Practice Transformation Network; Marsha Bourdon of Lakes Region Community College and Dr. Jilian Stogniew of Awakening Chiropractic and Raw Life Café. The elected slate of officers for 2018-2019 include Jannine Sutcliffe, President; Deborah Pendergast, Vice President; Matt Soza and Edward McFarland as Co-Treasurer; Susan Stearns, Secretary.

Deb Pendergast, 2017-2018 Board President provided a recap of the initiatives that were successfully implemented over the past year including LRMHC’s participation in three state-lead initiatives which included a technical assistance grant from SAMSHA that will assist NH in aligning mental health and substance use disorder peer services by way of definition, rules and Medicaid reimbursement. LRMHC added peer supports to each of their adult clinical teams and pioneered peers in its wellness programs and integrated care service, “One Health.”

“This year LRMHC introduced MATCH (Modular Approach Treatment for Children and Adolescents), an evidenced based practice specifically designed for children and their families, who are diagnosed with anxiety, depression, trauma, and conduct-related disorders. We look forward to the expansion of our integrated practice models including sustaining OneHealth, improving health outcomes and growing our collaborative efforts with primary care and substance use disorder providers through our 1115 waiver work with Community Health Services Network (CHSN).  In addition, we expanded our presence in the local schools by adding Belmont High School, Ashland Elementary School and Interlakes High School to the list of schools we serve where we work closely with school staff in providing services to children.

LRMHC understands the growth of the organization is dependent upon the growth of the organization’s workforce. The investment in creating a conference and training center that is equipped with audio/visual technology has supported our efforts to offer more open educational events to staff, our community partners and the public at large. Our new facility has hosted over a hundred trainings since our relocation in January 2018. Required trainings for licensure of clinicians are now offered on-site and LRMHC physicians and nurse practitioners are offering internal training sessions keeping staff well informed on subject matters like diagnostics, clinical formulation and psychopharmacology.

LRMHCs success in growing has been recognized twice this year. Belknap Economic Development Council recognized LRMHC for our economic impact on the region.  LRMHC received the 2018 Merit Award for Excellence from the NH Architect and Plan NH in recognition of our contribution toward creating a sustainable community through utilization and renovation of an existing building.

This past year, Lakes Region Mental Health Center saw a 39% increase in the number of patients served in Emergency Services; an indication that there is much more work to be done. The demand for more services challenges communities and organizations alike to find ways to meet the need and was the catalyst behind the development of NH’s most recent Ten Year Mental Health Plan. Given that statewide, there continues to be an increase in demand for inpatient psychiatric treatment services, more children and families requiring a broad array of services, and the impact of the opioid epidemic on individuals, families and communities, we are hopeful that this new plan will simplify and expand access to services for individuals and their families across New Hampshire” said Deb Pendergast.

Cassie Yackley, Psy.D, who was the evenings’ keynote speaker, has spent more than 25 years committed to understanding and effectively addressing the impact of traumatic/adverse experiences on young children, caregivers and families. “The early years in childhood provide the best opportunity to develop a child’s full potential; as well as form academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine not only success in school but also their entire life. Ensuring that young children have safe, secure environments in which to grow, learn, and develop healthy brains and bodies is not only good for the children themselves but also builds a strong foundation for a thriving, prosperous society.” said Maggie Pritchard, Executive Director of Lakes Region Mental Health Center.

Lakes Region Mental Health Center served 1,077 children ages 0-17 in FY 2018.

Each year, LRMHC presents the Helen Holbrook Leadership & Service Award which is given to an individual who leads by example and gives of themselves to strengthen the cause of mental health in the Lakes Region. This year’s recipient was Jim Holmes, Branch Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Central NH. “Jim has dedicated much of his professional life working to enhance the lives of so many young people.  The Boys & Girls Club has been an important community partner, offering free summer day camp and after school programs for all children that receive functional support services from LRMHC.  We are very proud to present him with this award” said Maggie Pritchard, Executive Director at LRMHC.

LRMHC also presented the Dr. George “Pete” Harris Community Service Award to Erica Ungarelli, Director, Bureau of Children’s Behavioral Health, NH DHHS.  “Erica has devoted a career that spans 25 years to the Department of Health and Human Services advocating on behalf of the State’s children in a number of different capacities.  We are pleased to acknowledge her achievements and continued work to improve the lives of our children” said Pritchard.