New center aims to address gaps in mental health services for children and adolescents

May 7,2012
Children, adolescents and families now have a new option for mental health care in the region, the Samaritan Mental Health Family Center. In early May, the Center was launched under the direction of psychiatrists Tim Blumer, DO, and Mike May, MD, to address the essential needs of the region.

“Ask any parent of a child with a mental health issue about access to care. They’ll tell you it’s practically impossible,” Blumer said.

Frequently, waiting lists for the few child psychiatrists in the region can extend up to six months. Local psychologists, social workers and counselors who work with children and teens also have long waiting lists. When a child is in crisis, even suicidal, parents have few options, and families often end up in the emergency department.

“Can you imagine being in this situation and being told there is a waiting list to be seen?” Blumer asked. “We need a greater range of mental health services readily available to these families — outpatient services that can help kids who don’t require hospitalization.”

With these challenges in mind, Samaritan Mental Health Family Center was developed to provide comprehensive mental health care and coordinate services for children, teens and their families in Benton, Lincoln and Linn counties.

The Center’s first steps included hiring a licensed professional counselor, Kiri Horsey, and this summer a child psychiatrist and neuropsychologist will join the Center to continue to expand its capacity. The Center is designed to be collaborative and will work closely with other mental health providers within Samarian and the community to address the gaps in care for children and adolescents.

The new program will allow Blumer and his colleagues to provide more clinical evaluations and treatment to hundreds of existing and new patients in the region, and the new providers will offer support groups for children, teens and parents.

“If we develop a mental health system that is proactive, we can provide urgent services as well as proactive services to help families avoid crisis situations,” Blumer said. “I see it growing into something quite comprehensive, making things better for children, teens and families in our communities."

To learn more about Samaritan Mental Health Family Center, call (541) 768-4620.