A board filled with purple ribbons and beautifully crafted keys sat on display at the beginning of the Mental Health Matters tour held at the Mental Health Associaton (MHA) center in Frederick. Notecards hung loosely from each key with a personal story from members of our community, describing their experiences with the team at MHA or a story of triumph with their mental health journey. “These keys represent the goal to unlock the stigma, fear, and anxiety barriers behind ‘mental health’,” said Niki Thrash, Director of Development and Marketing at MHA. “There’s a negative connotation behind the term ‘mental health’ and we are here to help change that.”
The goal of Frederick’s MHA is to “promote positive mental health and offer not just education, but the support and compassion needed to make real and lasting changes in the lives of those we serve.” Their compassionate group works to help the members of our growing community achieve a positive, healthy state of mental health to live the best life possible.
Niki, along with the dedicated staff of MHA, guided a group pf community members around their newest wing of the facility- located at 226 South Jefferson Street- teaching us about the everyday duties of the small staff that is devoted to helping the people of Frederick through mental health concerns.
One main discussion during the tour was around the call center, that handles nearly 40 thousand calls a year. “With that volume, it’s definitely a busy position to be in,” Thrash said. “There are always two members of our team in the call center at all times. We are looking to add two more to help accommodate the need.” The staff also stated that the counseling center is looking for new attendants to aid with the growing volume of attendees.
The center sees close to 1,100 child visits in the year and helps accommodate over 900 non-custodial visits with families. These meetings are monitored and visitations are supervised in a homelike, relaxed setting that allows for children and parents to feel safe and comfortable. The MHA staff works with adults, both women and men, as well as senior citizens, young adults, teens, and children at early development stages with behavioral concerns. Of the visits seen at the MHA office, 75% of them reported relationship improvements with their loved ones and with themselves.
“Many times throughout the day, this lobby is full of people just waiting to see or talk to someone,” said Thrash. Another member of the group shared their story about how they overcame a mental health issue they experienced after returning home from serving in the military. They explained the feeling of anxiousness that accompanied his decision to seek help from MHA, but after being greeted in the lobby by the great team at MHA, he felt at ease and confident in his decision. He is now a part of the growing team at MHA, committed to helping others with their mental health journey.
Employers are also strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the team at MHA and utilize their services to better support their employees and their ongoing mental health.
The team at MHA invites everyone to come by one of their wonderful “Mental Health Matters” tours held every 2nd Thursday from 8:30am to 9:30am and every 4th Thursday from 4:00pm to 5:00pm. Call their 24/7 hotline by dialing 211. Crisis hotlines are available for local calls at 301-662-2255 and statewide at 800-422-0009. Walk-Ins available Monday through Friday 12pm to 8pm and weekends from 12pm to 4pm. For more information, visit: www.fcmha.org
Photo courtesy of Jasmine Sneed of MHA Frederick.