Commissioners focus on mental health

The Susquehanna County Commissioners focused on mental health at the April 24 meeting and proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

Information about the county’s joinder with Lackawanna County for a Behavioral Health Intellectual Disabilities Early Intervention (BHIDEI) program was provided; as was information about increased out-patient services provided through Friendship House.

After receiving some questions about services offered in the county, Maryann Colburt L-S BH/ID/EI said many mental health services are being delivered in the county through school districts, hospitals and out-patient clinics in the county.

In 2017, Susquehanna County residents received about $7 million in services. The county pays about $150,000 as part of the joinder agreement, according to Commissioner Alan Hall.

With the addition of school-based services in the past five years, mental health professionals are able to provide services to students in the schools.

With a spike in youth suicides about five years ago, the county worked with the Advocacy Alliance to set up a series of focus groups aimed at gleaning the underlying problems and address the issues that resulted in the deaths. That worked launched the Susquehanna County Suicide Awareness Initiative about three years ago, with Diane Hawley-Wurth at the helm. She has been spearheading outreach with churches, organizations and other county agencies.

The Suicide Awareness Initiative is presenting a free showing of “Suicide: The Ripple Effect,” on Tuesday, May 7, at 6 p.m., at the Montrose Theater, Public Ave., Montrose. This event is being sponsored by the commissioners, along with Lackawanna – Susquehanna BH/ID/EI.

The commissioners also heard from Dr. Alice Davis, Executive Director of the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center, who provided an overview of courses offered at the vocational school for both high school and adult learners.

She reported that seven school districts send students to the SCCTC, and noted that college dual enrollment courses are also offered there.

Hall said an audience member at a previous meeting had mentioned that there were “barriers” for students wanting to go to SCCTC.

Davis ensured that SCCTC has an “open door policy,” but did note that the sending schools may have their own guidelines a student would have to meet – such as a certain grade point average, class rank, or course requirements.

“We don’t,” Davis said adding the SCCTC policy is “Come in and prove to us what you can do.”

She also said SCCTC would take any student a school district recommends into the programs.

Davis also said that SCCTC stays responsive to the needs of local industries. In response to those needs, a CDL driving program is slated to be added this year to help address the shortage of drivers.

Davis also spoke about the community service activities the students spearhead through the year; and the business incubator that opened to adults and students looking to start up their own businesses.

The commissioners also fielded questions about road conditions throughout the county.

Hall reported that since last year’s flooding, about $10 million in road repairs have been done in the county. He also noted that PennDOT is aware of major problems.

In the business portion of the meeting, the commissioners:

*acknowledged the hiring of Michael Sniscak by District Attorney Marion O-Malley to the position of County Detective/ Substitute School Resource Officer, effective April 25.

*approved the transfer of Britney Darrow to the position of Assistant Director of Assessment, effective April 25.

*approved the hiring of Glen Evans as the Assistant Processing Manager at the County Recycling Center.

*entered into an agreement with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute to continue to implement and maintain a statewide automated victim information and notification system (SAVIN).

*proclaim May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month and recognized the Lyme Disease Coalition Inc. by proclamation .

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