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Dorothy Adams awarded Volunteer of Year

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Friday, November 8, 2019

For the full article as it appears in the Sun Journal, click here.

HANOVER — For decades Dorothy Adams has tirelessly given of herself to people in need. Her commitment and dedication over much of her life has made a significant positive impact not only to the little town of Hanover, but to many towns in Oxford County and throughout the State of Maine. And so, it is for her kindness, compassion and tireless commitment to volunteerism that Adams was presented with the 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Town of Hanover.

Adams has served as a trustee of the Gardner Roberts Memorial Library in Hanover holding various offices on the board and actively participating in the library’s fundraising events, fairs, festivals and community pie nights. Since the 1970s she has volunteered for the Howard Pond Preservation Association, and beginning in the 1980s has been a race volunteer for the Chisolm Ski Club Nordic Race Team at Black Mountain. More recently, Adams has been instrumental in organizing and promoting various successful fundraising events for the historic Rumford Point Congregational Church steeple restoration project which is now well underway.

“Dottie’s contribution to our project has been inspirational. She has helped write grants, coordinated events, baked, cleaned and even sewn a handmade picture quilt of Western Maine for the raffle. We are extremely thankful for all the time Dottie has given toward having successfully achieved our goal,” said Rumford Point church pastor, Cindy Christie.

Adams also serves on the board of Oxford County Mental Health Services providing support, outreach and mental health awareness to local families. She also serves on the River Valley Community Health Board and works with the Oxford County Resiliency Project supporting youth and mental health, working in schools with students and teachers.

“Dottie is always willing to share her wisdom and support, and treats everyone with dignity, kindness and respect,” says Stephanie LeBlanc, Oxford County Mental Health Services executive director. “Dottie is such a pleasure to work with and is a true asset to our community.”

For over a decade Adams has played a vital role as a support group leader and Family-to-Family teacher for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), having founded the NAMI Western Mountains affiliate in which she currently serves as President. In 2017 she received the NAMI Mal Wilson Award for outstanding achievement.

“Shortly after my son returned home in 2005 with serious mental health issues I quickly became involved with NAMI because of my own need for support and mental illness education. I’ve been driven by Western Maine’s need to make life better for those living with and/or affected by family and friends with unmet mental health needs. People need to become more aware of the issues and what they can do to make life better for those who suffer, and to realize ‘we are not alone, we are all affected’. All it takes is one person to be there for another to make a life-or-death difference,” says Adams.

When asked what inspires her to dedicate herself to volunteerism, Adams replied, “My passion for children and their needs has led to my involvement in most volunteer projects. Volunteerism’s reward is good feelings for whatever small way one person can help another or an important cause.” And the rewards that Adams has given to others have been, and will continue to be, many.

Tags:  affiliate  mental health  nami western mountains  volunteer 

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Nonprofit Mental Health Provider Will End Clinic-Based Therapy Program, Affecting 450 Mainers

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Friday, November 8, 2019

Hear the full clip from Maine Public here


Maine mental health provider Sweetser has announced it is ending its clinic-based therapy program, which will affect 450 children and adults.

The nonprofit says it made the decision because reimbursement rates from both the state and from private insurers are not sufficient to support the service. And while Sweetser says it will work to find alternative services for the hundreds affected, mental health advocates say that will come as a challenge.

Sweetser's Saco campus.

Sweetser's clinic-based therapy, which it offers at five locations from York to Lewiston, will end by mid-December. Other services at those locations will continue, as will therapy services in the community, including those offered at public schools and primary care offices. Sweetser declined an interview request, but in a letter sent to community partners, Vice President of Programs Jim Martin says the 450 people who currently receive clinic-based therapy will need to transition to services elsewhere.

The announcement concerns Jenna Mehnert, CEO of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Maine.

"This is 450 individuals who were brave enough to ask for help, found a clinician, clearly found a connection to that clinician if they continued to go, who now don't have services,” Mehnert says. “Those services are not easily replaced in the current landscape of Maine's mental health care system."

Mehnert says there is already a shortage of mental health providers throughout the state. The executive director of the Consumer Council System of Maine, Simonne Maline, says Sweetser's announcement is a bellwether of what has been happening in the community mental health system for years.

"I think if there is not a big warning bell going off right now for the Department and the community, there definitely should be," says Maline.

Maine's Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says in a written statement that rebuilding the state's mental health system is a top priority for the Mills administration, and that community-based services are central to the state's strategy.

In an Op-Ed this fall, the commissioner said that DHHS is seeking federal funds to expand services. A preliminary plan on the department's website also sets a goal to address the shortage in the behavioral health workforce.

Sweetser says its decision is due to both public and private reimbursement rates that are too low to support the clinic-based model.

Democratic state Sen. Cathy Breen, who is co-chair of a recently-formed mental health working group, says the group will examine rates and make recommendations in a forthcoming report.

"We really need a system-wide review so that folks in Maine are getting the services they need with the proper level of care in the community," says Breen.

Simonne Maline of the Consumers Council System agrees that reimbursement rates need a boost, but she says the problem goes a bit deeper.

"I don't think you can make really good decisions unless you're talking to each other and collaborating to find out what are the holes, where do we need to beef up services. You can't do that until you start talking to each other,” Maline says. “And that's one thing I see still continuing to be a challenge in this current administration."

Maline says the working group is a good start toward strengthening Maine's mental health system. But she says the state should continually solicit feedback from both providers and consumers to achieve the best results.

Tags:  access to care  mental health 

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Sweetser to discontinue mental health therapy at five Southern Maine locations

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Friday, November 8, 2019
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2019

See the full news clip from WMTW here.

 Sweetser's Saco clinic is one of five that will stop offering mental health therapy to clients by mid-December. Now close to 500 people will need to look for services elsewhere.

In addition to Saco's, clinics in York, Sanford, Brunswick and Lewiston will discontinue therapy next month.

Sweetser says reimbursement rates for therapy services aren't balancing out the cost of offering it at the clinics.

Mental health advocates say funding is an ongoing concern statewide.

"We would argue that there needs to be appropriate reimbursement rates for quality, evidence-based mental health care," said Mae L'Heureux from the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine.

WMTW News 8's Tyler Cadorette spoke with personnel at NAMI Maine today. They worry that this will put more of a pinch on an already strained system.

"Maine is a state that's very rural, and resources are slim, so we have a huge shortage of mental health providers in the state of Maine," said L'Heureux.

Sweetser estimates that 450 clients will need to be transferred to other local providers for their therapy services.

"Starting over can be really overwhelming for folks," said L'Heureux

The nonprofit is looking to move impacted employees to other roles within the organization, while the clinics involved will continue to provide other mental health services.

Sweetster made it clear in a press release issued Thursday afternoon that it has no plans to close any clinics going forward.

Tags:  access to care  mental health 

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Amy Hodgon, 2019 John W. Coombs Award Winner

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Friday, October 11, 2019
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2019

NAMI Maine’s President-Elect, Amy Hodgdon, was recognized with the John W. Coombs Award by News Center Maine!

View the video on Amy here. 

Tags:  board of directors 

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I-Team: Report reveals 17 percent increase in Maine veteran suicides

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Monday, September 30, 2019

For the full news story from Channel 13, click here.


AUGUSTA (WGME) -- New data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows a 17 percent increase in suicides among Maine's veterans.

"You kind of get a knot in your stomach," said Melissa Willette, Director of Communications for Maine's Bureau of Veteran Services.

She said jaws dropped this week when the VA released its annual report on veteran suicides.

The most recent data is from 2017 and shows more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide, which is about 17 per day.

There were 48 in Maine, up from 29 in 2016.

"Maine is a rural state, so we can only guess that it's due to the number of firearms that are accessible," said Willette.

She said the BVS and several other organizations have been pushing education and awareness, making sure veterans have access to services, but a lag in the data makes it hard to know what's working.

"These numbers are two years old, so we're not gonna know if the efforts we've put in over the last year-and-a-half have really taken hold," Willette said.

Jenna Mehnert, the executive director of NAMI Maine, is less surprised by the new numbers because suicide rates have been on the rise in general.

"Those populations have a higher suicide rate, because asking for help is kind of counter-intuitive to what they're trained to do," Mehnert said.

There's no one solution, but Mehnert said one key is those closest to veterans, the family and friends they most often confide in. She said they should be trained in what to look out for, and how to talk about it.

"Often we're uncomfortable to take the step and that's what the person needs, someone to be a bridge to the other resources," she said.

With 75 percent of Maine veterans using a gun to end their life, Willette said the BVS is talking about a voluntary firearm safety plan.

"Maybe working with the sheriff's offices or police departments to temporarily house your firearm while you get the help that you need," Willette said.

Veterans can use the Veterans Crisis Hotline to talk or text with a qualified responder.

Tags:  mental health  suicide  suicide prevention  veterans 

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Maine Partners Help Tackle Opioid Addiction with Mobile Bedroom Trailer

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Thursday, September 12, 2019
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2019

Visit the Department of Education's Newsroom for the full story here

The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Maine hosted tours of a youth bedroom trailer in the parking lot at NAMI Maine (National Alliance on Metal Illness) today in Hallowell in an effort to raise awareness about the warning signs of opioid misuse in youths.

The youth bedroom trailer, created by Code 3 as a mobile awareness campaign, is staged as a typical teenager’s bedroom with tell-tale warning signs of opioid use arranged throughout the room. Tours of the trailer take participants through the bedroom pointing out a number of signs that the youth is misusing substances. The warning signs are often identifiable to veteran law enforcement but may not be as obvious to parents, guardians, or other adults.

Today’s tours hosted local law enforcement officers in addition to state government officials, members of the legislature, and local community members. The Trailer is scheduled to make another appearance today, details below, and plans for an appearance in Bangor are in the works:

Monday, September 9
3:00 pm-6:30 pm
Kennebunk Elementary School
177 Alewive Road

RALI Maine is an alliance of organizations elevating programs that have a real impact on our state’s opioid crisis. They support a broad range of programs, including prevention, treatment and recovery services, facilitating the safe disposal of unused prescription medicines, and raising awareness of the warning signs of opioid misuse. For more information, including a list of local partners visit:

Tags:  mental health  substance abuse 

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World Suicide Prevention Day: Maine ranks above national average

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

See the full story on Fox 22 here

BANGOR – Bangor city councilors proclaimed this week National Suicide Prevention Week, with Tuesday being Suicide Prevention Day.

“What meant a lot to me about being able to read the proclamation and talk at council is that I shared I’m a suicide attempt survivor,” said Bangor city councilor, Clare Davitt. “I’ve actually attempted twice in my life.”

Per the proclamation, with 274 reported suicides happening in Maine in 2017, the state ranks above the national average.

Suicide is also listed as the second leading cause of death in those under 25.

“The average age right now is 10 or 11 that kids are killing themselves at, which is obviously horrifying,” Davitt said. “Obviously it touches all groups of the population, but the first time I attempted, I was 13.”

Resources are out there for those struggling or looking to support loved ones the best they can.

“NAMI Bangor, a local affiliate, that affiliate provides support groups,” said Jenna Mehnert, the executive director of NAMI Maine. “Also, you know, connecting with a crisis agency, which is a statewide crisis number if anyone felt they were in any immediate risk of suicide.”

It’s also important to know how to communicate with people who may be considering suicide.

“When you’re talking to someone about it…being clear…saying are you thinking of hurting yourself? Are you thinking of killing yourself?” Davitt said. “It isn’t going to put the idea in someones head. It can actually be a relief to have someone say it to you without judgment.”

The number for the NAMI crisis line is 207-622-5767.

More resources can be found on their website.

Tags:  mental health  suicide  suicide prevention 

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Maine Voices: Save the life of someone dedicated to saving ours

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Read the full piece in the Portland Press Herald here

Suicide is a serious national public health issue, with over 45,000 Americans dying by suicide each year; nationally, 20 veterans die by suicide every day. Suicide is preventable, and we all have a role in addressing this issue.

We are morally compelled to address this crisis and it is within our capacity to change it. Change will require the full collaboration of community stakeholders. Together we can provide greater pathways to care and raise broader public awareness of veteran suicide.

David Richmond is director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, Hannah Longley is director of community programs for NAMI Maine and Tracy Charette is suicide prevention coordinator for the VA Maine Healthcare System.

WHERE to get help if you or anyone you know is battling depression or has had suicidal thoughts:

• Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-TALK (8255), press 1.

• Veterans Crisis Line online chat:

• Veterans Crisis Line text service: Text to 838255

• The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255).

• Maine Crisis Hotline: 888-568-1112.

This September – National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services and its partners, VA Maine Healthcare System and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Maine, will be engaging in a series of public awareness initiatives and trainings aimed at educating stakeholders on prevention and safety planning. A full schedule of events can be found at

Maine has one of the highest rates of military service per capita, which means most Mainers know someone who has served, if they haven’t served themselves. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the veteran suicide rate in Maine was significantly higher than the national rate in 2016. Maine veteran suicides totaled 29 in 2016, out of the total 219 suicide deaths in Maine that year.

VA data also show that Maine’s veteran suicide rate is highly elevated versus other populations:

• Maine veteran suicide rate: 24.8 per 100,000 population.

* Maine suicide rate: 20.4 per 100,000.

* Northeastern regional suicide rate (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont): 13.3 per 100,000.

• National suicide rate: 17.5 per 100,000.

Our goal is to educate all Mainers to know the signs, the symptoms and what to do. Signs may include anxiety, depression, mood swings, shame, rage, loss of interest, alcohol or drug abuse, deteriorating physical appearance, withdrawing from family and friends, expressing suicidal intent and self-destructive behavior.

If you are a veteran experiencing these symptoms or you know a veteran exhibiting these signs, free and confidential help is available 24/7, 365 days a year. You can text 838255 or call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also chat online at

Another objective of this month-long effort is to engage stakeholders in providing outreach and resources to veterans before they reach desperation. This includes building on the momentum of the 2017 statewide symposium on veteran suicide.

At the symposium, over 150 individuals and organizations made commitments to “#BeThere For Veterans” by adding suicide prevention training to employee briefings; developing partnerships with clergy across the state of Maine; adding the Veterans Crisis Line contact information to organization newsletters, and, for those providing medical care, by asking veteran patients if they have ever contemplated suicide.

Far too many veterans have not enrolled in the VA health care system and may not realize the services that are available to them. In fact, only six out of the estimated 20 veterans a day who ended their lives were enrolled in and using VA at the time of their suicide. If you are a veteran who is not enrolled in the VA, or you know a veteran who is not enrolled, call us.

Maine has also begun implementing the state’s first veterans case management program. With the 2017 passage by the Maine Legislature of L.D. 1231, a mental health case management pilot program was created for veterans and current service members. On Jan. 1, 2018, Maine hospitals began implementing the program to identify veterans in need of mental and behavioral health care. During the first six months of the pilot, over 1,300 veterans presented to hospital emergency departments needing such care.

We will continue to work with Maine’s medical providers, community action programs and state and local leaders to improve veteran suicide prevention and intervention. While the number of veteran suicides in Maine continues to decline, there is still more that must and will be done. One veteran taking his or her own life is one too many, and we will continue to bring partners together to work toward the goal of eliminating veteran suicide altogether. While no two veterans share the same journey through crisis, there are resources available for everyone.

Please join us this month, and year-round, in helping save the lives of those who have sworn to protect ours.

Tags:  mental health  veterans 

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Build Resiliency: Be a respite provider

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Read the full piece in the Daily Bulldog here.

by Jenna Mehnert, NAMI Maine

Did you know that three-quarters of all mental health conditions develop by age 25 with the median age of onset for an anxiety disorder being 7?

Even more alarming is the reality that every year, since 2012, more children ages 10-14 have been lost to suicide than traffic fatalities.

Mental health struggles and thoughts of suicide are common, but not often discussed. NAMI Maine is dedicated to providing support and education for anyone impacted by mental health conditions. One of the supports we provide is the family respite program.

As the mother of a child with autism and anxiety, I can say that raising a child with mental health needs is challenging for lots of reasons. One of the most tangible was that I could never hire the teenager next door to watch my child. My child lacked any awareness of danger and was easily overwhelmed by loud noises or lots of activity. I know I missed little milestones in the lives of my other children because I had to stay focused on my son.

One of the most significant protective factors in the life of a child is a trusting and supportive relationship with an additional adult besides their parents.

Respite is designed to help parents, like me, by offering planned, intentional breaks. Being able to go for a quiet walk alone or go shopping with just one of my other children is what respite makes possible.
What we know is that even a little break can improve the mood of the caregiver and restore hope that they do have the ability to meet the complicated needs of their child.

If you enjoy working with children and are looking for a flexible side income, becoming a respite provide may be a great way to build your resume, earn some extra money and support a child in need of a bonus adult in their life. NAMI is always hiring providers and a primary requirement of all respite providers is empathy and an ability to meet the family on their terms as far as their individual respite needs. When and where respite occurs is very flexible; it can be provided in the family home, the provider’s home, or in the community. Respite providers get the pick the families that they want to work with and when they are able to provide respite.

NAMI currently has families in the respite program in the Franklin County area who could use a caring provider. The starting hourly rate for a respite provider is $11 and a person with some specialized training working with children can earn $13.25 an hour. Please contact NAMI at 800-464-5767 with any questions related to respite services or check out their many other resources or even start an application today at

If you are a parent, like me, loving and raising a child with a mental health diagnosis or two or more developmental delays, please apply for respite support at

Tags:  respite 

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NAMI Maine aims to help educate folks on warning signs of teenage substance abuse with mock bedroom walkthrough

Posted By Alicia Hynes, Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2019

See the full story from WABI 5 by Paul Dwyer here

HALLOWELL, Maine (WABI) - NAMI Maine hosted an event Friday aimed at educating people about the warning signs of teenage substance abuse.

It featured a mock young adult bedroom from the Code 3 Association that folks could take a tour through with an expert.

They showed ways that kids are hiding drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Organizers say it's important for them to teach folks the warning signs of drug use.

"Intervention at its earliest is always huge, and that's why we're trying to get as many parents or educators as we can to come through here to see what's going on or to see what we have to show them," said former Washington D.C. police officer Dean Welch from the Code 3 Association. "Because if they can get to their kids as soon as possible, then it can help them from getting down the line when it could be possibly too late."

The Hallowell and Augusta Police Departments and the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office helped put on the event.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  mental health  substance abuse  youth mental health 

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