The suicide and overdose rates continue to increase across the nation and continue to impact our small communities in the Finger Lakes. To help our community, Finger Lakes Community Health (FLCH) has grown within the behavioral health department to target these needs and address them with more services for our patients. Our counseling staff treat various mental health diagnosis and work together with medical providers to assist with prescriptions to help combat the opioid and addiction crisis.

There is help availableWith the use of open access clinics in our area, screening tools and prevention assessments, and the use of telehealth equipment, we can strive to get treatment to those who need it the most. At Finger Lakes Community Health, we utilize primary care screening tools to help assess the degree of depression that a patient may have. We also use similar screening tools to assess for anxiety. If you score positive on these tools and seeing a counselor is recommended, we have counselors available at our health centers for our patients. If you need to see someone that isn’t immediately available, we utilize telehealth equipment. This video equipment is HIPAA protected and easy to use. Telehealth equipment allows a patient to see a provider at another location (sometimes even another state) through video teleconferencing.

If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, reach out to your primary care provider or a behavioral health specialist – or talk with a friend or family member. Talk with them and tell them you’re struggling. It is OK to struggle and to be vulnerable. The services at Finger Lakes Community Health are there for those that need them.

Keep communication open with family and friendsIf you haven’t talked with a friend or family member in a while and know they have recently gone through a hard time, contact them. Often losing a job, a recent death in the family, pressure because of college/work, or experimenting with drug use can have a devastating effect on them. If a friend is going through a hard time and you are aware of it, ask your healthcare team what services are out there that you can offer as a friend.

At FLCH we integrate medical, behavioral health, and dental teams that serve our patients. We come together as a team and treat the whole patient not just their specialty. With this approach, we have been able to provide a level of quality care that is unique to our area. You can speak with any one of our staff and they will point you in the right direction to get the care you need. We also have individuals who will come to you to talk so that you stay safe, healthy, and alive.

Substance abuseWe have partnered with the Finger Lakes Area Counseling & Recovery Agency (FLACRA) to provide our patients with optimal substance abuse treatment and programming. We have recently partnered with another organization at Bath Community Health, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Casa Trinity will be available to our patients that need substance abuse treatment and counseling and those that want to participate in groups.

We continue to train our prescribers on best practices for substance abuse treatment and we continue to have primary care providers get waivered to prescribe medications to help tackle the opioid and addiction epidemic. The staff at Finger Lakes Community Health focus on safety planning and relapse prevention planning to help guide patients on making the best choices for living a healthy lifestyle.

National Suicide Prevention HotlineAnd don’t forget, that if you or a loved one is in an urgent or emergency situation, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They are available 24 hours every day of the week.

Amanda Felice, MS, LMHC and director of behavioral health at Finger Lakes Community Health — an independent healthcare organization with eight health centers in the region.

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