Prairie Counseling Center Marking Public Health Week

Submitted by the Prairie Counseling Center at the Bond County Health Department…

Public Health Week starts April 1, 2024. What comes to mind when you think of “public health”? Is it mental health or substance use? If not, it should!!! Bond County Health Department (BCHD) houses Prairie Counseling Center (PCC). Prairie Counseling Center is a community mental health center that provides mental health and substance use services to persons aged 6 and over.

Prairie Counseling Center takes the health of its community members seriously and believes that good health does not just mean physical health. It means mental health as well. Often when mental health is discussed it is shadowed in stigma. It takes conviction and relationships to breakdown the stigma.

Prairie Counseling Center staff have made great strides in the programs it provides for the community, but they have not done it alone. PCC has had the privilege to work closely with many agencies including Chestnut Health Systems, Bond County Recovery Council, and other community service providers. In 2022, Prairie Counseling was awarded the “Building Bridges” award. In 2022, Prairie Counseling Center began to build relationships with other community organizations, including Bond County schools, Greenville Police, and Bond County Sheriff’s Department.

Chief Stefan Neece and Chief Deputy Josh Hill have been instrumental in building these relationships as well. They have made the mental health of the community as important as physical health. A School Resource Officer (SRO) was implemented at BCCU#2 with the collaboration of Chief Neece, Terry Swalley and other school administrators. Chief Deputy Hill continues to work to implement an SRO at BCCU#1 as well.

Chief Deputy Hill has worked very closely with Prairie Counseling staff to implement many new programs to assist the residents of the county. With the passing of 988 for mental health crisis, Chief Deputy Hill has made sure that PCC staff are able to respond safely with county deputies wherever in the county a mental health or substance use crisis occurs. This partnership has helped bring treatment to individuals in crisis. The options aim to reduce repeated calls by reaching toward the root of the crisis and a more lasting, positive outcome.

PCC’s substance use services have also expanded in Bond County related to the collaborative efforts of Chief Deputy Hill and other community partners including Chestnut Health Systems and Bond County Recovery Council. Any person detained at Bond County Jail can receive virtual substance use services while in jail with the hope that they will continue with treatment after release to get needed treatment. Chief Deputy Hill also made arrangements to provide PCC with information regarding overdoses. PCC can respond within 24 hours to residences within the county with lifesaving Narcan (naloxone). Without the emphasis and priority placed on collaboration by local law enforcement like Chief Neece and Chief Deputy Hill, these services would not be provided. Increased communication across our county agencies has greatly expanded our problem-solving capacity. We at PCC have seen the positive impact of these interagency dialogs in the lives of our clients and community members.

Chief Neece and Chief Deputy Hill have also made other officers available to provide training to PCC and BCHD staff. They work together to train not only our public health department but our schools and other businesses in violence prevention, self-defense, and safety including coordinating and completing active shooter drills.

As we celebrate Public Health Week, Prairie Counseling Center not only recognizes its amazing staff, but the entire staff at Bond County Health Department. We also want to recognize that we could not protect and prioritize the importance of the health of the public without the efforts and collaboration of others such as Chief Neece and the Greenville Police Department, and Chief Deputy Hill and the Bond County Sheriff Department.

Happy Public Health week, together we are making a difference!!!!

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