By JAMIE PATTERSON
It is a team of dedicated providers who consider their profession a ministry, not a job. With years of experience, they are making a difference in their community through helping hands, open hearts and a listening ear.
And Yazoo is blessed to have this committed team within its community, sometimes under the radar, but always present with the people they serve.
The outpatient and crisis services provided at Warren Yazoo Behavioral Health are making significant progress with mental health within the community. Their numbers reflect that with more and more patients adjusting and adapting to stable environments. Hospitalization is on the decline as this team of professionals pursue their calling, their ministry.
“Through the years, my passion has not changed,” said Tiffany Cohea, with community support services. “This is a ministry within our community. If you don’t have the mindset that it is a ministry, you will not stay in this field long. Your calling and desire are to hopefully help people.”
There are a number of outpatient and crisis services available at Warren Yazoo. From community support to individual psychotherapy to crisis services, the programs are geared towards stabilization and recovery.
Community support specialists make home and school visits to monitor the progress of patients within Warren Yazoo’s services. Making referrals and identifying needed resources, this team seeks to reduce the need for hospitalizations and to provide support for recovery through a holistic approach.
Individual Psychotherapy is a process through which children or adults work one-on-one with a trained mental health therapist in a safe, caring, and confidential environment. During that time, they explore their feelings, beliefs or behaviors, work through challenging or influential memories, identify aspects of their lives that they would like to change, better understand themselves and others, set personal goals, and work toward desired change.
“People seek therapy for a wide variety of reasons,” said Angela Street, director of outpatient services. “Some of the reasons include needing help coping with major life stressors or trauma, dealing with depression or anxiety or to simply desiring personal growth and greater self-knowledge. A child or youth may need help in complying with adult requests, coping with daily events, functioning better in school, anger control or socializing better with peers.”
Street said a team and individual may work together for as little as a few sessions to several years’ worth of therapy. In 2018, Yazoo and Warren Counties served 2,162 adults and 1,465 children and youth.
“Warren-Yazoo Behavioral Health has always worked hard to decrease commitments, but with our new crisis services, we decreased our commitments by 38 percent,” Street said. “This was the second highest improvement in the state of Mississippi out of all the Community Mental Health Centers.”
The goal established by Department of Mental Health when funding was provided was 10 percent, which means Warren Yazoo exceeded that by 28 percent.
Bridgette Lewis, who works with the agency’s crisis enhancement grant, said her goal is to deter hospital commitments. She has been working with her grant for a year, and her team has succeeded in that goal.
Meeting that goal is special for Lewis, who was born and raised in Yazoo City.
“I am able to help the people within my community,” Lewis said. “It is great overall to see that we are able to get people stable and to decrease hospitalization commitments. We are more visible within the community, more than ever.”
Madison Simpson, who works as a crisis team member and an outpatient therapist, said she believes the increase in individuals receiving services has to do with a social shift in mental health.
“The culture of society now focusing on mental health brings more people in because they are hearing it more,” Simpson said. “The conversation is out there more.”
Thanks to the dedicated employees at Warren Yazoo, many individuals are able to live in their homes, regulate their own medications, contribute to the community and be their own person. Through therapy and sometimes immediate intervention, a balance is established. And a love is formed.
“When a patient tells you ‘thank you,’ it is so raw, so genuine,” Simpson said. “I think that is why we all got into these fields, to help people. We try to spread love.”