Local center offers behavioral health treatment

2:24 PM, Jun 10, 2022

Many people are familiar with the importance of mental health — also called behavioral health — and the need for resources to help anyone who is struggling, but they may not know where to turn. Fortunately, a local health center is available to treat both mental and physical health concerns: the Helena Indian Alliance.

“My running joke is that the head is connected to the body,” center director Kyle Johnson said. “If you don’t treat their mental health problems, they’ll start to have physical ailments. And if a person has untreated physical problems, then their mental health will start to suffer.”

That’s why the Helena Indian Alliance is available to serve the community, including not only Native Americans but all local residents.

“We try to treat both mental health and physical health all in one place, so a person doesn't have to go to different providers,” Johnson said. “A lot of the time, people really appreciate that. People struggle with transportation and time. They can get all of their needs met all in one location. Providers all work together and are on the same wavelength to provide the best possible treatment.”

Those treatments may include services available through Helena Indian Alliance’s primary health care clinic, through its onsite behavioral health professionals, through youth programs, or through any of the other resources offered.

“At Indian Alliance, what we do differently than other organizations is we really try to treat the whole person,” Johnson said. “So, what that means is we have providers that can work with people on their physical health, their mental well-being.”

How behavioral therapy can help

Behavioral therapy focuses on changing negative thinking patterns and behaviors. For example, when children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, parents can work with them to improve behavior, self-control, and self-esteem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For children younger than six, parents should use this type of behavioral therapy before trying ADHD medication.

“When parents become trained in behavior therapy, they learn skills and strategies to help their child with ADHD succeed at school, at home, and in relationships,” according to the CDC. “Learning and practicing behavior therapy requires time and effort, but it has lasting benefits for the child and the family.”

In addition to ADHD, behavioral therapy can help with a range of issues, according to Healthline:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorders
  • Disorders involving excessive anger, like intermittent explosive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Phobias, including social phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Self-harming behavior, like cutting
  • Substance use disorders

Fortunately, therapy doesn’t necessarily have to take a long time.

“I think that's a big misconception about mental health treatment, is that people have to come to therapy for years in order to get mental health conditions treated,” Johnson said. “The real truth of the matter is that there are some conditions that can be treated in a couple of brief solution-focused sessions.”

It starts with asking for help from a loved one or visiting the Helena Indian Alliance.

“If that person doesn't have anybody that they feel comfortable talking to, we would be happy to help here at the clinic,” Johnson said. “We have staff that can work with all behavioral health conditions, we have staff that can work with all ages of clients, and we have staff that really care about a person's plan of care.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit hia-mt.org.

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