RMH Behavioral and Mental Health Department Finds Opportunities for Service

RMH Healthcare Solutions Building

In August of this year, the staff of Rush Memorial Hospital’s Behavioral and Mental Health Department moved into their new home: the RMH Healthcare Solutions building at 1264 S State Rd 3 in Rushville. A lot has happened in the past three months.

Department Director Susan Eakins and her staff have taken full advantage of having their new, separate, location. When asked about the changes that have occurred since the move, Susan said, “The department underwent a significant expansion prior to moving here, so we really needed the space. We have three full-time LCSW’s (Licensed Clinical Social Workers) who do individual family counseling. A Nurse Practitioner offers behavioral and mental health medication management services for children and adults. We also have a full-time peer support specialist and a fourth social worker who helps with individual casework. The new building has given us more space, as well as a greater opportunity to communicate face to face. The move has really increased collaboration among the team.”

One of the most obvious developments that has occurred since the move is the start of four new support groups. These groups meet monthly to help those struggling with depression and anxiety, suicidal ideation, supporting someone with suicidal ideation and recovering from the loss of a loved one. The three suicide-related support groups are offered in collaboration with SPARC (Suicide Prevention Across Rush County), a local community coalition for suicide prevention. As part of this collaboration the department offers quarterly QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) training for those who want to be prepared to help someone experiencing suicidal ideation. Both group and individual training is offered. Past participants include the faculty and staff of RCHS. Elementary school staff training is scheduled for 2024.

The Department of Behavioral and Mental Health also helps patients with practical solutions to issues such as a lack of transportation or food insecurity. The goal is to help patients overcome barriers that could limit their ability to access healthcare resources. Social Worker Sherri Rudolf recently spearheaded the addition of community resource information to the RMH website (Community Resources – Rush Memorial Hospital). Sherri also works with patients plug into community resources on an individual basis.

One of the most exciting projects currently underway is department participation in a Rush County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). The CIT is composed of community stakeholders working to improve the safety of law enforcement officers and the public during incidences involving those suffering from mental illness. Stakeholders include law enforcement officers, representatives of the courts and the correction system, Meridian Health Services, Centerstone and others.

The first goal of the CIT is to provide a 40-hour training course to all Rush County law enforcement officers. The course is designed to help officers in two different ways. First, the course will help them differentiate between situations involving straight criminal behavior and situations driven by an underlying mental health issue. Secondly, the course will help officers learn to safely de-escalate situations involving those with underlying mental health issues. This will help officers better protect themselves, the public and those suffering from delusions, hallucinations or other mental health issues. It will also help prevent incarceration of those with mental illness. When asked about the CIT Susan commented, “It’s been a lot of work but in the end, it will help fill some gaps in our community. We’re hoping to have our first training in April.”

When asked about her goals for the future, Susan said, “We want to keep doing what we’re doing. We really have a “dream team” here. Our LCSW’s each have over 20 years of experience. The entire team is highly skilled but also very compassionate and dedicated. There is a shortage of clinicians all over the United States, which has led to long wait times everywhere. We are in a situation where success will be maintaining what we have so we can offer long-term consistency and continuity of care for all of our patients.”

Another wonderful project from RMH Behavioral and Mental Health Department taking place currently is the annual Holiday Card Drive for those in inpatient mental health facilities through the holidays. Each year, around Indianapolis, hundreds of people ranging from children as young as six to adults spend the holidays in the hospital alone due to a variety of different mental health-related issues. Drew Hahn, Mental Health Peer Support Specialist and Community Outreach Liaison at RMH, began the holiday card drive last year to bring a smile to those separated from their families over the holidays.” The card donations can be blank sheets of paper with artwork or a positive message, store-bought holiday cards with a signature, or anything in between. “Last year’s cards ranged from positive and affirming messages to holiday-themed coloring sheets to bright, colorful scribbles from some of our younger donors,” Hahn said. “The hospital and its staff were very grateful and shared that many smiles were spread through our generosity.

With the strong dedication to improving the mental health of the Rush County Community, the RMH Behavioral and Mental Health team and the administration of Rush Memorial Hospital will continue to care for those with mental health needs and will work towards taking mental health care to the next level.