Collaboration is a Key to Tri-County's Huge Range of Services
The range of programs offered by Tri-County Mental Health Services is remarkable, especially in this era of almost constant budget cuts. One reason is that Tri-County is built on a foundation of collaboration with individuals and organizations throughout Clay, Platte and Ray counties. Though often unseen except to those involved directly, this collaboration helps Tri-County serve more people in more communities and greatly expand the range of services it offers.
“We’re more than an organization where people visit to get help,” CEO Tom Cranshaw explained. “As important as our prevention and treatment team is here in the office, we also work with a team of caring providers and stakeholders throughout the Northland to make this a better community and to make our services go as far as they can.”
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One example was evident recently when Ray County celebrated its ninth Drug Court graduation. The “students” had completed a grueling gauntlet to clear their minds and bodies of drug addiction. Far more than a “slap on the wrist” for someone caught committing a crime to support a drug habit, drug courts are a tough process to eliminate the drug habit permanently—to deal with the cause, not just a symptom.
Hard numbers tell the story: in northwest Missouri, drug court programs see a success rate of 95-100 percent—much greater than the success of simply jailing people and then releasing them untreated. Tri-County also works with judges, prosecutors, law enforcement personnel and others to operate drug courts in Clay County and plans are under way to operate a similar program in Platte County thanks to recent funding from the Clay, Platte Ray Mental Health Levy Board.
Drug courts are only the tip of Tri-County’s collaboration, however. The organization works with law enforcement and judicial leaders in several efforts, including the wildly successful Community 2000 Prevention Program. With its foundation built on community volunteer groups, Community 2000 is a truly grassroots effort that combats substance abuse among young people. Tri-County’s Community 2000 groups have earned state and national recognition almost every year.
Both law enforcement and hospitals connect with Tri-County in other ways. For example, both jail and emergency room personnel often have some training in how to deal with mental illness, but it’s not a specialty as it is with Tri-County staff, who are available to assist with serious problems.
“Medical and law enforcement professionals have to handle a lot and this is a way we can help,” Cranshaw said. “It can also help someone with a serious mental illness get the care they really need.” The importance of this was underscored in a recent Johnson County, Ks., study. About 17 percent of jail inmates were found to be mentally ill. Almost half of those who are booked 20 times or more were found to have a mental illness.
The oldest of Tri-County’s collaborative efforts actually involves its provider network—the individual psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors who work in the communities of Clay, Platte and Ray counties. Although Tri-County’s professional staff at the Human Services Center is outstanding, Tri-County from its founding 20 years ago emphasized use of independent providers in order to maximize its reach and provide care in local communities. In a similar way, Tri-County satellite programs in Excelsior Springs, Platte City and Richmond also extend services where people live and often need help the most.
“We are a comprehensive community mental health program and that means we serve the community,” Cranshaw concluded. “It’s not enough that we have outstanding services here in our offices. We also work with the community and our stakeholders to deliver what is needed, where it is needed with a commitment to offering hope with compassion to all in need of our services.”
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