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Behavioral Health Integrated Into Primary Care at Community Health

CHCRR Team Joins Oct. 20 Walk Out of the Darkness for Suicide Prevention

“Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region(CHCRR) is working at creating an environment where patients feel comfortable talking about their suicidal thoughts and providing them with necessary support,” said Brooke Whalen, licensed social worker and CHCRR’s behavioral health manager. Whalen said the October 20th Walk Out of the Darkness is a community event with all of the behavioral health providers in Rutland County joining together to increase knowledge about suicide prevention. This year, CHCRR will join Rutland Regional Medical Center and Rutland Mental Health for the Saturday morning walk that will begin at Main St. Park in Rutland.

Vermont’s rates of suicide, according to the state’s Department of Health, are higher than the national average and higher than states in the New England region. For the past ten years, the overall suicide rate in Vermont has been on the rise; more men fall victim to suicide than women, with two thirds of the deaths caused by firearms, according to the state.

Health and wellness require both physical and behavioral care, and Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region supports a staff of behavioral health experts who address treatments for suicide prevention as well as a wide range of behavioral  and mental health issues including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction and medicated assisted treatment for opioid addiction.

“Behavioral health is integrated into the primary care setting,” said Whalen, who manages a staff of 15 at CHCRR that includes pediatric and adult psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and licensed social workers. Because behavioral health care providers are included in CHCRR’s network, “Primary Care doctors are more comfortable discussing depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders knowing that they have providers to refer to and address those situations,” Whalen said. “We provide psychiatric evaluations, psychiatric medical checks, family counseling for ages six and up, throughout their lifespan.”

CHCRR Recently Added Four Behavioral Health Specialists

CHCRR has recently added four behavioral health specialists to the staff including Benjamin Stillman, clinical psychologist, Dr. Jean Butterfield, child psychiatrist, Clare Connor, psychiatric nurse and Alyssa Mazzariello, social worker with CHCRR Pediatrics.

Behavioral health is multifaceted. It includes ways to prevent or intervene in mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety and also includes prevention and intervention with substance abuse and addiction and suicide prevention.

Walk Out of the Darkness

On Saturday October 20th, at Main St. Park in Rutland, a team of walkers from CHCRR will take part in the Walk Out of the Darkness, which is being held in hundreds of cities across the country supporting the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in the month of October. The walks are to encourage people to open up about their struggle with suicide and support families that have faced the loss of a loved one to suicide. The AFSP has created a platform to change our culture’s approach to mental health. Donations from the walk support AFSP, which has been able to set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20% by 2025.

CHCRR is central Vermont’s largest network of primary care, pediatric and dental services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham, CHCRR Pediatrics is in Rutland and CHCRR’s Express Care centers, open 7 days a week, are located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers. Behavioral health providers are available at all of CHCRR’s locations.

 The mission of the Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region is to improve the health and wellness of all people in the communities we serve by providing access to excellent medical and dental primary care regardless of any financial consideration.

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