By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
MACCLESFIELD – The Vidant Behavioral Health Center celebrated one year of providing services to the community Thursday afternoon and a group of Vidant health professionals gathered at the center at 201 W. Edgecombe St. in Macclesfield for the birthday celebration.
“There aren’t a whole lot of behavioral health services in Edgecombe County. To be able to offer that broadens the continuum of care,” said Deborah Morton, the center’s program director. In the mornings, the center offers outpatient group therapy for people with anxiety, depression and other thought disorders. Group therapy for those with substance abuse (drug and alcohol) problems takes place in the afternoons.
“We talk about coping skills, relapse prevention, relaxation,” said Janice Britt, behavioral health therapist for the center. She leads the substance abuse group therapy sessions, while Susan Whicker, the center’s other behavioral health therapist, leads the mental health therapy sessions.
“Don’t be afraid of the group concept,” Whicker advises potential clients. “You get feedback from a lot of different people, not just one therapist, and you get to help other people, which gives you more confidence.”
Morton said the therapy groups range from six to 10 people each day.
“We have about 18 admitted right now and we’re still growing,” she said.
In Morton’s view, the tranquil location of the behavioral health center is the perfect environment for patients who often have “lots of chaos” in their lives.
“Some people like it because it’s kind of tucked away…It is private. It’s not right in the middle of the hospital,” said Morton. She likes being able to provide a “comfortable and safe” place where clients can address their problems and build life “coping skills.”
At Thursday’s reception, Morton provided tours of the behavioral health center to guests, who later enjoyed refreshments catered by Top of the Pines. The center is the former location of Macclesfield Healthcare, which relocated to Pinetops. Morton said Vidant Edgecombe Hospital wanted to keep a healthcare presence in Macclesfield, thus the opening of the center.
“I think it’s a great use of the space,” she said.
May is mental health awareness month, and the staff at the behavioral health center wants people with mental health problems to know that help is available to them.
“People don’t have to suffer in silence,” said Morton.
The “intensive outpatient therapy” services that the center offers are desperately needed, considering the percentage of people with mental health problems and the scarcity of such services provided statewide, according to Whicker.
“One in four people suffer from depression, 25 percent of the population,” said Whicker. “They get to a state where they get very helpless and hopeless.”
“There’s not enough services available especially to people in rural communities,” Whicker added. “It’s hard to get admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility. A lot of people don’t have insurance or they can’t afford the co-pays. There’s a lot of cracks in the system.”
The behavioral health center accepts a number of health insurance plans, and clients in need of financial aid can apply through the hospital. The center also offers transportation to clients, which is provided by mental health technician James Barrett.
The center is accepting new patients. Those interested in receiving services should call 827-9920.