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041819-nws-mental-health

Staff at Chambers and Blohm Psychological Services in Bismarck are heading up a new partial hospitalization program for people needing mental health care but don't require hospitalization. From left, are, occupational therapist Kaylee Tishmack, nurse manager Anna Carlson, office manager Casey Nyhus and licensed psychologist Dr. Kathy Blohm. 

A new program is being offered in Bismarck for people diagnosed with mental health conditions who do not require hospitalization.

Chambers and Blohm Psychological Services has created a partial hospitalization program for people with conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Similar to a day treatment program, people receive various therapies in group settings and learn general coping skills they can apply at home.

The goal of the program is to stop a revolving door of patients who undergo  inpatient treatment in a hospital, but then are unsuccessful once they are discharged, according to Kathy Blohm, a clinical psychologist with the practice.

Patients in the program will meet five days a week for four to six hours a day, and, in the afternoon, return to their daily lives and families.

Blohm helped start her private practice with a local doctor in 2001 after recognizing the need for additional mental health services.

"Over the years, I've just noticed we really are in a mental health crisis here in North Dakota," she said. "Especially in a rural area, there is just such a need."

Since then, her practice remains busy, offering other services including addiction treatment. Her practice is a multidisciplinary team of about 15 employees, including doctors, psychologists, social workers and a family nurse practitioner.

The only other partial hospitalization program in Bismarck is offered at CHI St. Alexius Health, which has had the program for more than 20 years, according to Lisa Wilson, a clinical supervisor at the hospital.

But because the program at the hospital tends to have a waiting list, Blohm decided to start another.

At both Chambers and Blohm and CHI St. Alexius Health, patients are referred to the program or can call and request a screening to see if the program is a good fit.

Chambers and Blohm's program is for people with mental health disorders, while CHI St. Alexius Health offers treatment to people with mental health conditions, as well as people with dual diagnosis — both a mental illness and a substance use disorder.

In the 2013-14 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 19,000 North Dakotans indicated they have both co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

"What I think is unique about the (dual diagnosis partial hospitalization program) is that most addiction programs solely focus on the addiction first, and so this is an opportunity for people to have mental health addressed, as well," said Sarah Andes, a behavioral health therapist at CHI St. Alexius Health.

Both partial hospitalization programs at CHI St. Alexius Health and Chambers and Blohm offer services such as occupational therapy, nursing services, psychotherapy and assistance with meal planning.

Anna Carlson, nurse manager at Chambers and Blohm, said the goal is for patients to practice the skills they learn in the program and come back.

"This is a real support system," she said.

The programs vary in length, but typically last from two to six weeks. CHI St. Alexius Health's program is limited to about 12 patients, while Chambers and Blohm will be able to serve eight.

Chambers and Blohm is currently taking referrals for their program. For more information, visit www.chambersandblohm.com or call 701-323-0924.

For more information on the program at CHI St. Alexius Health, visit www.chistalexiushealth.org or call 701-530-7255.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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