Mental Health First Aid for Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Corrections Division

March 10th, 2017

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Anne King, LCSW and Chief Program Officer for HSS, provided an 8-hour certification course on Mental Health First Aid to members of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department on February 27-28.  Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a program that aims to teach members of the public how to respond in a mental health emergency and offer support to someone who appears to be in emotional distress.  Mental Health First Aid is the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.  The “first aid” is given until the appropriate treatment and support are received or until the crisis resolves.  MHFA also strives to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems by providing education and promoting better understanding of the experiences of people with mental health problems.  For more information on how your group can receive this valuable training, please contact Anne at 618-939-4444.


Parenting Classes

March 3rd, 2017

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HSS therapist Robyn Ramsey is currently leading an evening parenting class for families of Kindergarten-8th grade children.  The program uses the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) curriculum and seeks to help parents learn positive ways to respond to kids, how to respond to difficult behaviors and to effectively use discipline and consequences.  The group meets once a week for two hours at the YMCA in Columbia where childcare is provided.  There is no cost for participants.


Hecker Homes

January 30th, 2017

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An important part of HSS services is our supportive housing program for adults with disabilities.  HSS owns and operates nine apartment buildings in Waterloo and Columbia with a total of 60 apartment units and has two group homes in Hecker that can each serve four adults.

This fall several HSS staff members came up with an idea to approach Home Depot for donations to build shingled, roofed patio covers for the patios at the Hecker two group homes plus some fencing to make a safe zone where residents can get out and enjoy the fresh air.  Home Depot, along with their community partner Paraquad, said “yes” to HSS and not only provided funding for the materials, but they also sent a team of Home Depot staff to do the labor!

On September 27th the Home Depot team along with several HSS staff and spouses set to work to get the job done.  They framed the covered roof, dug holes for the supports and shingled the roofs.  On October 11th they came back and finished the fence.  Now our residents hurry out to enjoy their new patio after their workday as the HSS Adult Day Training program is over.  A big “thanks” goes to Home Depot, Paraquad and the HSS staff and spouses that made this happen.


Community Education Efforts

January 3rd, 2017

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Last year our year-end community appeal was for support so HSS could provide several community education programs. Education programs are usually not reimbursable from health insurance and since we did not want to have to charge fees to individuals that wanted to attend the programs, community funding was sought.

Thankfully, we were successful in our appeal and several programs were offered during this year including Mental Health First Aid. This program is an 8-hour course that teaches untrained persons how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It gives participants the skills needed to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis. We were able to offer sessions to members of the public and to our own staff. We expect to continue providing this training throughout the next year.

Another program offered was Second Chances, an early intervention program for teens and parents on substance use. This six-week series addresses how to understand teenage behavior, how to communicate with teens and what to do if there is experimentation with drugs or alcohol. We have been able to host two cycles of this program and anticipate offering it again in the near future.

HSS also was able to offer a parenting skills program named STEP, an acronym for Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. This four-session class was directed at families with school-age children. HSS provided the staff and the YMCA Columbia hosted the classes. This class will be also repeated in the near future.


Special Olympics Honors

December 19th, 2016

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Each year Special Olympics draws competitors from throughout Illinois for an uplifting track and field competition in the summer and a bowling competition in the fall. Special Olympics is a much anticipated event for many of the adults with intellectual disabilities that participate in the HSS Adult Day Training Program or who reside in our supportive housing program.

This year was no different with over 40 HSS athletes entering the competition. For track and field events the Regional competition was to be held at SIU Edwardsville. HSS had 34 athletes scheduled to compete at the Regionals but when it was rained out 13 HSS athletes were picked to go to state finals in Bloomington at Illinois State University. We were fortunate to have four medalists at State.

For the Bowling competition our athletes began practicing months before the competition at area bowling lanes. The Regional competition was in Fairview Heights and 31 HSS athletes participated and 8 athletes will advance to the Sectional competition in November. The State competition will be in Peoria in December.

Our client athletes are really happy about their Special Olympics experience. In addition to the competitions there are shared meals and activities including a huge dance in the evening. Many good memories were made for the competitors. And to make the Special Olympics experience even more special this year, the City of Waterloo honored our Olympian medalists with a recognition ceremony at the July 5th Waterloo City Council meeting.