We’re excited about introducing new website sponsor Ozark Guidance because we believe so strongly in what they do for local families. In fact, we’ll be working closely with their doctors and experts on a new category we’ll be offering here on nwaMotherlode, beginning later this month. The new category will be called “On Your Mind,” and it will offer info on how to spot the signs of an emotional or mental health problem and how to get treatment for it.
You may not realize this (because we sure didn’t), but mental illness is more common than cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Yet people often don’t discuss it and don’t get treatment for it. We believe one of the best ways to correct that problem is for mothers to TALK ABOUT IT. As moms, we know that if one member of the family is struggling emotionally, it affects the whole family. So this is an issue we need to be educated about so we can meet it head-on. The interview below will help you become more familiar with the experts you’ll be hearing from in the new “On Your Mind” category, premiering in late October.
We didn’t realize that Ozark Guidance has so many different locations. In what cities do you offer services?
We have outpatient clinics in Bentonville, Siloam Springs, Berryville, Huntsville, Fayetteville and our main campus is located in Springdale. We’re currently working on a plan to expand some of our services in Rogers in the new Nonprofit Center.
We also provide school-based counseling services in all 21 school districts in Northwest Arkansas.
What are some of the most common conditions you treat at Ozark Guidance?
Ozark Guidance has a broad continuum of care for children ages 2 1/2 to aging adults. The most common mental health challenges we treat for adults are depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. For children, the most prevalent mental health challenges are ADHD, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and various mood disorders; however, our well-qualified medical team and clinical staff treats all types of severe and persistent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders.
We know that doctors at Ozark Guidance can treat everyone in the family, but what specific services do you offer for children?
We offer a broad array of services for children. Our philosophy is “early intervention creates prevention”. We have a therapeutic day treatment program for preschool children and pre-K classes, and outreach counseling services are located in all the public school districts in NWA. We are accredited by the Department of Education and offer therapeutic day treatment classes for children in grades 5-12. We also have a therapeutic foster care program and a residential program for children that need 24-hour care and treatment.
Many families struggle with a mental health issue but never talk about it. How common is it to face an emotional or mental problem during a lifetime?
Mental illness is a very common, medically treatable disease. One in five children and one in four adults in Northwest Arkansas will have need for mental health services in the course of a year. This is a national statistic provided by the US Surgeon General’s office, but it’s applicable to our residents here in NWA.
If you could help people understand one important thing about mental health, what would it be?
We would like for everyone to understand the commonality of mental illness and that everyone during the course of their lifetime will likely have need for mental health services. Depression, anxiety and mood disorders can be brought on by life circumstances such as the loss of a loved one or a job. However, many people don’t get mental health treatment because of the fear of being labeled as inadequate to handle the stresses of daily living. Mental illness is more prevalent than cancer, heart disease or diabetes, but it receives less social acceptance.
What are some of the most common misconceptions about mental health issues?
Many people judge mental illness as a character flaw, but mental illness can affect anyone from any walk of life. Mental illness is a family disease that affects every member of the family. Mental illness can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain or by a life-changing situation, but it is treatable just like any other medical condition. If a person had a broken arm they would go to their doctor for treatment, but people don’t always go to see a doctor if they are depressed. This year, through a grant from the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Foundation and the Willard and Pat Walker Foundation, Ozark Guidance is launching a Mental Wellness Awareness campaign to educate the general public about mental illness and to help break down the stigmas and barriers associated with mental illness.
Some people think getting help for a mental or emotional issue is too expensive. Does insurance pay for some of these services? What if you don’t have health insurance?
Mental health treatment is no more expensive than treatment for other medical conditions. Some insurance policies will pay for treatment, and this is becoming more common with the new mental health parity act recently passed by Congress. Medicaid and Medicare also pay for mental health services; however, if a person doesn’t have insurance or a means to pay for all of their services, Ozark Guidance has a sliding scale that is calculated according to the client’s income.
Tell us about the community events that Ozark Guidance hosts.
Ozark Guidance hosts several community events. Here’s our schedule for 2011:
Walk a Mile In My Shoes: Sale for Mental Wellness Awareness — Saturday, January 29th 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or while quantities last. Preview party January 27th. A thousand new and gently used shoes and handbags from the best stores and closets in Northwest Arkansas will be sold for $10 each. All proceeds from the sale will help provide counseling services for children and families.
Wings of Hope Butterfly Festival: Thursday, May 26th 4:00 to 6:00 pm at the Ozark Guidance campus in Springdale. The 4th annual butterfly festival is designed to celebrate Mental Health Month. Over 500 monarch butterflies will be released to symbolize the metamorphosis of mental health from illness to wellness and hope for the future. The festival is free to the public.
16th Annual Reinert Cup Classic Golf Tournament: August 22nd at the Springdale Country Club. This four-person scramble tournament features a raffle and great prizes for the players. Proceeds from the tournament benefit children’s counseling services.
Director’s Circle Appreciation Dinner: Tuesday, October 4th reception at 6:30, dinner at 7:15 location TBA. This is an elegant dinner hosted by the Ozark Guidance Foundation to honor donors and friends.
Why is it so important that mothers, in particular, be educated about mental health?
Mothers are usually the caregivers in the family and very aware of their family’s needs. Knowing the signs and symptoms of mental illness and where to go for help will help moms better care for their families and position their children for productive, successful lives.