Valeo Behavioral Health Care News


May is Mental Health Month
Topeka, KS , 5/25/16 - Bill Persinger - When mental illnesses or disorders are talked about, the language typically used to describe them tends to be clinical and impersonal. These words, while useful for doctors or clinicians, often dont do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. That is why this years theme for May is Mental Health Month  Life With a Mental Illness  is a call to action to share what life with a mental illness feels like to someone going through it. This Mental Health Month, we are encouraging people to speak up about how it feels to live with a mental illness by tagging social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike.

May is Mental Health Month was started 67 years ago by Valeo Behavioral Health Cares national organization, Mental Health America, to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone. Last years theme  based off of our B4Stage4 initiative  helped individuals understand that when you address mental health symptoms before Stage 4, people can often recover quickly, and live full and productive lives.

This year, we are building off of the B4Stage4 message and encouraging individuals to give voice to what it really means to live at stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 of mental illness. Life with a Mental Illness is meant to help remove the shame and stigma of speaking out, so that more people can be comfortable coming out of the shadows and seeking the help they need.

Mental illnesses are common and treatable, recovery rates are as high as 80 percent with the right treatment, and help is available. We need to speak up early  before Stage 4  and in real, relatable terms so that people do not feel isolated and alone. Sharing is the key to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and to showing others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms.

Realizing the importance of addressing mental health early, recognizing the risk factors and signs of mental illness, understanding what mental illness is and isnt, and how and where to get help when needed is critical to recovery.

Research shows that by ignoring symptoms, we lose 10 years in which we could intervene in order to change peoples lives for the better. Speaking out about what mental illness feels like can encourage others to recognize symptoms early on in the disease process, and empower individuals to be agents in their own recovery.

Prevention, early identification and intervention, and integrated services work. Telling people how life with a mental illness feels helps build support from friends and family, reduces stigma and discrimination, and is crucial to recovery.

For more information on mental health services in Shawnee County, visit Valeo Behavioral Health Cares website at www.valeotopeka.org.
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How many people are currently homeless in Topeka?
Topeka, KS , 2/2/16 - Theresa Douthart, Housing Specialist - Health & Wellness Magazine- How many of them are families, youth, or veterans? The answers to these questions and more can be answered by the annual Shawnee County Point in Time count. A point-in-time count is an unduplicated count on a single night of the people in the Topeka, Kansas community who are experiencing homelessness that includes both sheltered and unsheltered populations.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that communities receiving federal funds from the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH) conduct an annual Point in Time Count to represent a snapshot of our homeless population nationwide on any given night.

During these point-in-time counts, communities are required to identify whether a person is an individual, a member of a family unit, or an unaccompanied youth under the age of 18. In addition, communities must identify if a person is chronically homeless, indicating long-time or repeated homelessness and the presence of a disability.

HUD requires that these yearly counts occur during the last week of January. The first of these counts was conducted in January 2005. This year (2016) the Point in Time count was conducted on January 27, 2016.

HUD uses information from the local point-in-time counts, to provide a report to congress to demonstrate the effectiveness of HUDs programs and policies in decreasing the numbers of our nations homeless population. On the local level, point-in-time counts help communities plan services and programs to appropriately address local needs, measure progress in decreasing homelessness, and identify strengths and gaps in a communitys current homelessness assistance system.

In the 2015 Point in Time count,(403) people were found to be experiencing homelessness.(66)individuals were Chronically Homeless, (40)individuals were found to have a serious mental illness, (11)individuals were experiencing a substance use disorder, and (6) were victims of domestic violence. Of those counted 71% were living in an emergency shelter, 21% were living in Transitional House, and 8% were living in a place not fit for habitation.

The results of the 2016 Shawnee County Point in Time count will be announced early spring by the Topeka/Shawnee County Homeless Task Force. The Topeka/Shawnee County Homeless Task Force helps monitor the activities and outcomes of the Continuum of Care. Members of the Homeless Task Force include Valeo Behavioral Health Care and dozens of social service agencies, government entities, and medical and mental health providers. Valeo Behavioral Health Care provides homeless outreach and housing assistance for individuals experiencing severe mental illness and/or substance use disorder.
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Work Opportunity Tax Credit Under-utilized by Businesses
Topeka KS, 2/2/16 - Kassandra Griffin - TK Magazine-The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is an under-utilized employer tax incentive to hire individuals with disabilities. This credit can reduce hiring costs by utilizing the credit for hiring individuals with disabilities or from other targeted groups.

To be eligible for certification disabled individuals can be utilizing vocational rehabilitation services, be currently receiving SSI benefits, Ticket to Work holders, or disabled veterans. Employers can claim a federal income tax credit for a portion of the new employees salary. Employers could claim a maximum tax credit of up to $2400 per new hire, this figure doubles if the new hire is a disabled veteran.

To apply
1.Complete page 1 of IRS Form 8850 by the day the job offer is made.
2.Complete page 2 of IRS Form 8850 after the individual is hired.
3.Complete ETA Form 9061 or ETA Form 9062 if the employee has been conditionally certified as belonging to a WOTC target group by a state workforce agency, Vocational Rehabilitation agency, or another participating agency.
4.Submit the completed and signed IRS and ETA forms to your state workforce agency. Forms must be submitted within 28 calendar days of the employee's start date.

These forms can be found at www.irs.gov. For further assistance with applying for this credit business can contact their state workforce agency WOTC Coordinator.

Businesses can also claim tax credits for making their businesses accessible to individuals with disabilities you can obtain more information on these tax credits at https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Tax-Benefits-for-Businesses-Who-Have-Employees-with-Disabilities

Employment Facts on Disability
* Performance by workers with disabilities is equal to or better than non-disabled peers * Employees with disabilities have a 90% above-average job performance rating.
* Employees with disabilities have an above normal safety and attendance records.
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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation to Provide Support for Valeo Behavioral Health Care Consumers
Topeka, KS, 1/2/16 - The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation will partner with Valeo Behavioral Health Care in providing a $10,000 grant to the Valeo Foundation to expand medication coverage to better serve the needs of individuals experiencing serious mental illness (SMI) who have no insurance.

The Medication Voucher Program was established at Valeo in 2013 with a focus upon serving the consumers in need of medication, with no insurance and no means to pay for those needed medications. The program serves an average of 300 individuals annually who are unable to pay for their medications.

Studies indicate that 68% of adults with mental disorders have co-occurring medical conditions and risk factors such as: traumatic life events, chronic stressors, poverty, isolation, abuse and neglect. Of the Severely Mentally Ill consumers served by Valeo each month, between 20  24% are without insurance and without financial means to care for their medical needs.

Valeo Medical Director, Dr. Ty Porter, M.D. says, "Through this partnership with the BCBSKS Foundation we are able to expand the number of people we serve from Shawnee County and beyond, and meet their medical needs by providing necessary medications for their recovery. Overall this helps reduce unnecessary hospitalization and allows us to better treat chronic health conditions."

Funds for the Medication Voucher Program will be used in 2016.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving all Kansas counties except Johnson and Wyandotte. For more information on the Foundation, visit www.bcbsks.com/foundation.
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Valeo Announces New CEO
Topeka, KS , 10/16/15 - Valeo Behavioral Health Care announced a new Chief Executive Officer today. Valeo has hired Bill Persinger Jr., MHA as CEO of Valeo Behavioral Health Care, Valeo Community Residence Program, Inc., and the Valeo Foundation.

Persinger is a native Kansan and brings a wealth of knowledge in the mental health field. His career history includes positions as Executive Director of Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas in Emporia, Chief Executive Officer at KANZA Mental Health & Guidance Center in Hiawatha, and Program Director at Iroquois Center for Human Development in Greensburg.

He has a Master of Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota, a Master of Science, and a Bachelor of Science and Education from Emporia State University.

Persinger said upon acceptance of the position, The CEO position is an opportunity to make a contribution to the health and well-being of others on a larger scale, continue Valeos ongoing contribution to public behavioral health policy, and bring my specific skill set to a fine organization that is poised for continued success. Many complex changes are upon our field of public mental health. I am fully prepared to actively lead the agency going forward as it excels in the areas of health integration, collaborative partnerships in the community, and many other developments on the near horizon.

Persinger plans to relocate from Osage to Shawnee County. He begins his role as Valeo CEO Nov. 5, 2015. Christine Wills, Director of Mental Health Programs at Valeo served as interim CEO February through October 2015.
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Creations of Hope: New Beginnings Opens in NOTO
Topeka, KS , 10/1/15 - Valeo Behavioral Health Cares Expressive Therapies Program announces an exciting new partnership in the NOTO Arts District. October 2, 2015 marks the grand opening of the Creations of Hope Art Gallery located at 909 N. Kansas Ave. upstairs from the Yeldarb Gallery. The "Creations of Hope Art Gallery" is a collective space for artists experiencing mental illness to advocate through their artwork.

The inaugural exhibit is a juried show entitled "New Beginnings" featuring the work of more than 100 artists. The event also kicks off National Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 4th through 10th.

The mission of the Creations of Hope Art Gallery is to:

*Celebrate the work of artists experiencing mental illness.
*Provide an accessible and empowering resource for artists experiencing mental illness to enter the art community.
*Raise awareness and educate about mental illness.
*Provide events that widen views of mental illness by focusing on creativity, strengths, and hope rather than disability.

Art from the exhibit is for sale and all proceeds go to the participating artists. The Creations of Hope Gallery opening was made possible in part by generous contributions from the Topeka Community Foundation and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.
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Grant to hire two people to work with police on mental health
Topeka, KS , 6/3/15 - Megan Hart - A $90,004 grant will pay for two mental health workers to go with law enforcement when they respond to calls about people in crisis in Shawnee County.

Valeo Behavioral Health Care asked for the grant so it could hire a crisis co-responder and crisis peer support specialist, who would work out of the Law Enforcement Center. Its goal is to divert 90 percent of the people brought in so they wont be jailed or hospitalized.

It also set a goal of following up with at least 250 people to help them set up mental health services. The new employees are scheduled to start working in June.

Tom Sirridge, grant writer for Valeo, said a mental health professional already works at the Law Enforcement Center on the day shift, but the grant will allow for staffing of the evening hours and the first half of the night, when police get a higher number of crisis calls. They will respond to calls that involve mental illness or substance abuse, he said.

They have done great work at diverting people from hospitalization or incarceration, he said. The goal is to keep everybody safe.

Topeka police reported responding to 506 crisis calls in 2014. Almost half were for people who were out of control, agitated or aggressive, followed by people experiencing hallucinations or delusions, medication issues and people with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Only six were jailed, but about 150 were hospitalized.

It costs about $300 for Shawnee County to house an inmate with a mental illness, compared with $95 for an inmate without a mental health condition. The county spent about $129,439 on psychotropic medications for inmates in 2014.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services awarded $433,000 in grants this week to nine agencies to fund community-based mental health services aimed at reducing the risk of hospitalization or incarceration. The funding comes from the fiscal year 2015 Governors Budget Amendment.

The other recipients were:
  Compass Behavioral Health, Garden City: $103,195
  Spring River Mental Health & Wellness, Riverton: $94,357
  Preferred Family Healthcare, Olathe: $67,244
  Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas, Emporia: $38,600
  Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, Lawrence: $10,000
  Kanza Mental Health and Guidance Center, Hiawatha: mini-grant $10,000
  Kansas Department of Corrections: $9,600

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