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Montana residents share mental health treatment stories

Glasgow residents share mental health treatment stories
Posted at 10:15 AM, May 03, 2022

GLASGOW - May is national Mental Health Awareness Month.

On Friday, as part of his 56-county tour of the state, Gov. Greg Gianforte heard emotional testimony from consumers in Glasgow.

“I grew up in an abusive home environment where your feelings didn’t matter and you got told to shut up,” said Crystal, a consumer of services at the Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center in Glasgow since moving to Montana in 2009.

During that time, she says she’s struggled with abuse, drugs, thoughts of suicide, and her children being taken away.

“It hurts a lot but coming into the mental health center and even with the MACT program, they’ve been helping me keep my mind occupied plus talk about everything on doing community service,” said Crystal.

The MACT, or Montana Assertive Community Treatment program, uses a behavioral health service model combining community living, psychosocial rehabilitation, and recovery for clients whose health has not improved with traditional outpatient services.

For Jesse, a consumer who was injured at work and battled depression, his time at the center has helped stop the stigma associated with mental health.

“There’s no judgment,” said Jesse. “Especially like for a Montana man it's like, you know, ‘You don’t talk about that, you just drink a beer and be quiet.' It’s completely changed me.”

Tonya is a consumer who has been coming to the center since losing her husband, a recovering drug addict, almost two months ago. The now single mother of two says the program has been helpful in the grieving process.

“Normally I probably would have just went home, stayed in bed and tried to sleep it off for a long time,” said Tonya. “But, I’m here today, my eyes are all swollen shut from crying, because of these guys.”

While the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs deals with serious issues, stakeholders in Glasgow’s community-based program say their system is working.

For Crystal, who started at Fed-Ex as a package handler, the program has delivered.

“I’m now an admin in the office for FedEx so I run outbound sort,” said Crystal.

A consumer named Darrell has been coming to the center since December and told the Governor the center has saved his life.

Darrell suffered a stroke and said he spent time in jail before coming to the center.

He expressed concerns about law enforcement mistreating him and asked the Governor what could be done.

Gianforte explained that programs like the Angel Initiative and Heart Fund provides training and treat resources for law enforcement but added there’s probably even more the state can do.