January 06, 2022
Midland Radio recently provided walkie talkies to metal health provider, Trillium Family Services in Oregon.
The Volunteer and Donor Engagement Manager spoke with us about the importance of mental health awareness and the need for walkie talkies in providing its services.
Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers and health experts are still working to figure out just how much its impacted mental health. However, some data shows it is significant.
The Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics has been surveying American adults to gather data on mental health changes.
Data gathered in early September shows that 28.1% of American adults surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety and 22.4% reported symptoms of depression. To paint the picture, at this time two years ago, 7.4% of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety and 6.4% self-reporting symptoms of depression.
Shanin Engman is the Volunteer and Donor Engagement Manager for Trillium Family Services, a mental health provider in Oregon. She said she hopes the pandemic has led to a decrease in the stigma surrounding mental health.
“After going through a pandemic so many people relate to others struggling with mental health like never before. Some people have lacked an understanding and now I think people have a good basis of what it’s like to struggle.”
She said many kids and teens struggled alone throughout the pandemic.
“It’s been really hard because the pandemic has been so isolating. For kids and teens, that means they’re likely struggling at home and they don’t have the connections to get support. It’s been so isolating and caused people to struggle alone.”
Now that restrictions are easing across the country, she says Trillium Family Services is preparing for an uptick in the number of kids and teens looking for mental health support.
“We’re expecting that now that the kids were able to go back to school, that there’s going to be this huge demand for services. We’re bracing ourselves because there’s usually more need than there is services.”
She hopes others will see the need and help advocate for mental health services.
“I am encouraged by the conversations the pandemic has created surrounding mental health and I hope that our government and society recognize it.”
Trillium Family Services provides mental health care to kids and teens in Oregon between the ages of five and 17.
Trillium is the largest provider in Oregon.
It provides outpatient services such as school therapists, day treatment programs where kids get schooling and mental health services, and in-patient programs.
Engman said getting in the schools is a high priority for Trillium.
"A lot of schools don’t have counselors anymore. So many programs have gotten cut in schools so we’re trying to help as much as we can. Mental health can’t be a program that is cut. This is what helps kids be successful in life."
She says school counselors and therapists are more valuable than ever due to the pandemic.
"It’s placed a rather heavy burden on their shoulders because now there are kids coming back and teachers struggling too so they’re trying to figure out how to be healthy as well. We’re trying to support our therapists so that they’re reaching out to both kids and teachers.”
However, the reality Engman says is that some kids and teens need more help than a school therapist can provide. That is when clients are enrolled in the day treatment programs. Here, kids and teens come into care in the morning, receive schooling, mental health support, and therapy throughout the day.
Beyond that, Trillium Family Services also has an in-patient program.
“Sometimes kids need 24/7 care to keep them safe so that might mean that there was an attempted suicide, self-harming behaviors. It really just isn’t safe for them to be at home or at least until they get healthy again.”
Trillium Family Services' goal is to do everything possible to get these kids and teens struggling, back on track.
“We are doing everything in our power to get them healthy again so that they can go back home.”
Engman said Trillium Family Services also works with the families of the client because mental health crises impact the entire household.
“Sometimes the families feel the same as these kids and wonder if there is hope. They also wonder if this is ever going to change, will they ever be a happy family again. We come alongside them and help them realize that goal.”
One of the largest hurdles these clients face is first finding the right resources to get help.
“We often find that when people come to us, they feel really lost. They don’t know how to handle what’s going on with their kid. To not know who you can readily call is so debilitating for the family, for the community. You lose hope after a while."
Within the last few years Engman recalled working with a volunteer, a young woman who was a senior in high school at the time. After a period of time the young woman revealed she was a former client at multiple Trillium campuses and shared her story with Engman.
"She said that if it wasn’t for Trillium, she fully believes that she would be dead. She said that when she first came to us we were keeping her alive with that 24 hour care and observation. She didn’t feel like she had any hope. Overtime, she was getting therapy, treatment, and support, and learning coping skills. After a while she had hope for her future. She did it."
Engman said the former client and volunteer is now a successful college student and major mental health advocate.
"This is why we do what we do."
Communication is vital to keeping patients, staff, and others safe at all of Trillium's campuses.
"Our skills trainer teams all carry radios. They all have them on their shoulders. It’s so that they can have instant communication between teams, between the supervisor and the manager, and the emergency therapist on call. There’s no run and grab someone during an emergency. We need to instantly be able to say, ‘I need your help.”
Engman says patients in in-patient care often come straight from the hospital so the radios are also used in ensuring the safety of staff.
“Because we’re dealing with teens that are really struggling with their mental health, they may lash out or cause harm to themselves and others. That instant communication to be able to ask for help and support is key because we want our team to be safe.”
Midland Radio recently donated 15 LXT630 two-way radios.
“Midland sharing these radios is huge. We go through so many of them because they are constantly being used. We cannot stress enough how grateful we are for Midland helping us out. We use them for everything."
Engman says says three shifts of staff use the radios, 24 hours a day.
"Our care never ends at our inpatient centers so therefore the radios never stop."
Staff don't use cellphones not just because radios are more efficient, but also based on campuses' policies that directly impact patient mental health.
“We don’t want to use the phones because we don’t allow the patients to use them in our care. There’s a direct correlation between social media and depression.”
On May 14, 2022 Trillium Family Services will host its major fundraiser, the Heroes Experience.
The plan is to have a small in person event with 100-150 people at Stoller Family Estates along with its virtual event its held over the last two years.
“We’re hoping it will be a fun event where not only can we share the importance of mental health and get people to join our cause in supporting mental health, but also raise the dollars that we need to fill in the gaps for funding in our organizations."
Engman said the gap in funding includes activities like healing gardens and yoga.
“We have a few things that we find are very healing and therapeutic for our clients that we can’t necessarily bill insurance for or charge the state for. We are always looking for ways to close that gap in funding.”
She said these services are important to improving the mental health of Trillium's clients.
"Some people don't necessarily think of these activities as mental health care, but it is. These services are important to their care and mental well-being."