By PEGGY O’NEILL Independent Record helenair.com | Posted: Wednesday,
March 2, 2011
Eliza Wiley Independent Record – Justin Murgel, Intermountain’s director of school-based service, stands in the conference room of Intermountain’s Partridge Place location where community services are provideda and were helped funded by a $300,000 challenge grant they recently recieved.
In a testimonial letter written to Intermountain, a non-profit organization in Helena that provides mental health and educational help to children in Montana, the mother of a client described how services her son receives through Intermountain continue to help him and the entire family through his struggles with mental illness.
The mother (who did not want the Independent Record to use her name in order to protect the identity of her child) wrote that when her son’s behavior became too much for the public school district to handle, he began attending Intermountain’s Day Treatment Program. The program provides year-round education and therapy to students.
“… life is gradually getting better for our son,” the mother wrote. “That most likely wouldn’t be the case if it wasn’t for the intensive treatment he received at Intermountain. As a family we received weekly counseling. We received acceptance and support that we had not experienced before. For the first time, we began to understand our son’s behavior.”
A grant that was awarded recently to Intermountain will allow clients and their families easier and more convenient access to the community services the organization can provide. The $300,000 challenge grant is from the Montana Mental Health Settlement Trust, which is funded through proceeds received through a lawsuit settlement between the State on Montana and Eli Lilly and Company over the promotion on an off-label drug.
Intermountain is using the grant to purchase a building in which to consolidate its community services. The organization uses offices in four locations in Helena, including the main campus on South Lamborn, the adoption and family support program on South Last Chance Gulch, a psychiatry clinic on Birch and the building that the grant will help Intermountain purchase, which is on Partridge Place and currently houses Intermountain’s administrative offices.
“Right now, our offices are so spread out,” said Justin Murgel, Intermountain’s director of school-based services. “We want to be able to provide a continuum of care that is driven by the client. Our biggest focus is to be able to incorporate all our community services into one location.”
The grant will allow Intermountain to consolidate all its services in Helena into two buildings — the main campus, which will be used for residential clients, and the building at Partridge Place, which will be used for community services.
“It will make it easier for parents, eliminate the time they travel to each spot and lessen the stressors involved in getting treatment, Murgel said.
Murgel added that having community services staff in one location will make it easier for health teams to meet and come up with the most effective treatment plan for a client.
Murgel said he is confident that the matching part of the grant won’t be too hard to secure.
“We work with many foundations and community partners,” he said. “With Intermountain having been around for more than 100 years, those partnerships are strong.”
According to Intermountain communication’s director Maggie Long, the organization’s community services programs serve more than 600 kids in the Helena area. Intermountain’s staff has nearly doubled in the last 10 years to address the growing need for mental health services in the community.
In addition to day treatment, adoption, family and psychiatry and psychology programs, Intermountain’s community services include outpatient services and school-based services.
“The community services we provide are invisible to most people,” Long said, “but that’s good for our clients.”
Murgel said the grant will help Intermountain provide the best treatment for children and families.
“If you can keep a kid in the home and with the family, and provide the services they need without disruption, that’s the best for the child,” he said.
The mother ended her testimonial letter by writing: “For a very long time, we had felt like we were living with a stranger — and that is pretty uncomfortable and stressful. After about a year in treatment we began to feel like we were living with our son and not a stranger. We started to get to know him, and we found out he was a pretty neat kid!”