KALISPELL - The Flathead Valley is no exception to the growing drug problem across the nation and often, mental health and substance abuse go hand in hand.
Greater Valley Health Center (GVHC) has created a program to tackle both issues. The Co-occurring Disorder Program creates a one-stop shop for a patient's medical, dental and care system navigation needs.
“So what co-occurring means, essentially, is that certain people will have dual diagnoses, both substance use disorder and diagnosable mental health issues. They very often go together. And it's kind of sometimes a question of the chicken or the egg. Did the substance use bring on the mental health problem? Or was the existing mental health problem of participating factor in the substance use problem?” said GVHC therapist Ann McWilliams.
The Flathead County Community Health Needs Assessment completed in 2021 ranked mental health and substance use as the top two concerns in the area, making this program a much-needed service in the valley.
“It's a service that our community desperately needs. We have some services that already exist, but the more the merrier because, quite clearly, substance use is a challenge for our county,” said GVHC Co-occurring supervisor Jochen Russig.
With a pharmacy, counselors, dentists and doctors — all in the same place — it can be the difference between recovery and relapse.
“It doesn't matter what the disease state is, but the more times you have to stop to a specialist or to go to a different place to achieve the care, the less likely they are to complete all the different parts and pieces,” said GVHC Pharmacy Director Travis Schule.
Anyone in need of services at GVHC can stop by the behavioral health wing anytime, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. om weekdays. Additional information about the program can be found at https://greatervalleyhealth.org/.