Ep 60: Navigating the Government Mental Health Authority - Evan Roberson

Tri County Behavioral Health Care is the government mental health authority for Montgomery, Liberty, and Walker Counties, offering a wide range of services for both children and adults. Joining us in conversation today is Evan Roberson, who directs the program. Join us to hear how Tri County works to serve those from all sorts of backgrounds, how they are equipped to support the most complex children and adults, and what their treatment looks like. Evan talks about mental health management beyond treatment, and you’ll learn why the implications of long term drug use are often confused for a diagnosis of schizophrenia. We also discuss why folks with medical insurance choose Tri County over private care, and what to expect from non-crisis and crisis care. Evan leaves us with a message of hope around the growing awareness around the need for mental health care for all. Join us to hear all this and more today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Welcome to today’s guest, Evan Roberson, director of Tri County Behavioral Health Care.
  • The role of Tri County Health Care, as a local mental health authority, and a local intellectual disability authority.
  • Their work as a provider as well as state coordination and policy development.
  • Evan’s evolving roles in different community centers from crisis staff to IT, and director.
  • Their rate structure to serve those with financial difficulties.
  • The big three adult mental illnesses: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe forms of depression, and schizoaffective disorder.
  • The state’s ANSA assessment to determine eligibility: Adult Needs Strength Assessment.
  • Which kids they serve: those with serious emotional disturbances from four years old.
  • Comorbidities in kids including trauma, autism, and ADHD symptoms.
  • Which patients are best suited to their care.
  • What schizophrenic patients experience: voices, paranoia, sensory delusions and cognitive difficulties.
  • The pivotal role of maintaining your mental health in order to function with the rest of society.
  • Conflating the effects of long term drug use with the condition of schizophrenia.
  • Why people with health insurance seek out their services: they are the fastest!
  • The process of coming in starting with a financial assessment followed by triage and a same-day intake visit.
  • Wait time for an adult psychiatrist visit: three to ten days.
  • Wait time for a child psychiatrist visit: three weeks.
  • Why the majority of adults are on medication but only a small percentage of the kids are.
  • The targeted case management and skills training that each patient receives.
  • Other therapies that are funded separately to the federal funded services.
  • What the crisis treatment process looks like from arrival to creation of a clinical plan.
  • What motivates many Tri County employees to work there. 
  • How the pandemic has made us all more comfortable talking about mental health, making treatment so much more accessible.

Tweetables:

“No matter what your income is, if you’re in one of our three categories, you’re in mental health crisis, we can provide those services.” — @TriCountyEd [0:06:58]

“Your kid is ten, he’s cute, he’s manageable. What’s he going to look like at 25? And if you’re 50, what are you going to look like at 65? You need to be thinking today about the future.” — @TriCountyEd [0:13:30]

“We have over 600 patients with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is not an unusual diagnosis for us, the symptoms aren’t unusual for us, and our suppliers are used to treating at a higher level than you would at a PCP.” — @TriCountyEd [0:17:10]

“The biggest barrier to getting treatment is understanding that you need treatment and admitting that you need treatment.” — @TriCountyEd [0:53:03]

“My hope is that we will move from a place where we talk about mental illness to talking about what it means to have mental wellbeing and to live a life that is complex, and yet we can still cope.” — @TriCountyEd [0:54:20]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Tri County Behavioral Healthcare
Evan Roberson on LinkedIn
Evan Roberson on Twitter

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