The Dove House of Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services held their ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday. The Dove House is a pilot mental health residential treatment center on the campus of the Galletti Way facility in Sparks, Nevada and will serve all of Northern Nevada.
The ceremony was held on Wednesday, July 10, in front of a crowd of approximately 50 people, with almost 100 guests visiting the facility for the open house.
As a result of a 2011 Health Division study, and the vision of Sharon Dollarhide who created programs like the Forensic Mental Health Team, The Dove House was created as a collaborative effort between Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services (NNAMHS) and WestCare Nevada, Inc. The Dove House is a live-in, therapeutic, evidence-based community.
Dollarhide selected colleague Denise Abbey, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) to develop the program.
In February of this year, Abbey began working in a building on the Galletti Way campus in Sparks. What was an empty, cold, abandoned structure just a few short months ago has become The Dove House, literally.
How did the facility get its name?
A naming contest including all of the employees of the NNAMHS resulted in the appropriately named Dove House. A pair of doves lives in a nest on an alarm just outside the front door of the building; a few weeks ago, their baby joined them, a new birth for a new venture.
The Dove House, has a special meaning to staff and the residents who will soon become part of the same family; together they will work towards a wellness plan so participants of the program can live independently, just as the name implies –
Various resources and support resulting in
Empowerment for success
Unlike traditional group homes, The Dove House will provide structure, education, and therapy, along with the more prosaic but completely necessary life skills such as laundry chores, cooking and cleaning, and workplace skills. Each participant will have an individualized assessment plan managed by his or her service coordinator.
Treatment teams are in place to help manage participants in the program, including psychiatrists and nurses, with Abbey managing the entire staff as a certified QMHP (Qualified Mental Health Professional).
How will residents be referred to the program?
Participants can be brought to the House through a variety of paths; they may be referred there by the police department, the hospitals, emergency rooms (ER), anywhere in Northern Nevada.
How long will a resident stay in the House?
The program is voluntary; however, they must follow the rules of the House. Nobody can be forced to take medication, but if they are schizophrenic and need meds, it is probably in their best interest as well as the House population, so they are educated.
Since each treatment plan is individualized, it is up to each person how they are doing in their program; for some it could be 3 months, for others 6; but the maximum they can stay is one year.
There are several goals of the program; there is definitely a gap in our mental health system in Nevada and in America in general. Many people with mental illness find themselves tangled up in the legal system and become overwhelmed, and many officers are not trained sufficiently with how to handle that population.
According to the Nevada State Office of Epidemiology, it is estimated that law enforcement officers spend approximately 10% of their time in situations involving those with a mental illness. It costs approximately $120 on average per night to house an inmate; however, there is no rehabilitation for someone with a mental illness, only the frustration of being “locked up”.
In a structured, supportive, and safe living environment, residents can learn the life skills they need to make it on their own outside of an institution. They can break free of a system and acquire the tools for day-to-day living that most of us take for granted.
What else will they learn?
Participants will learn everything they need for casual everyday living: social skills, cleaning, chores, and how to find a job. They will be living in a “home” environment where they will be encouraged to get along with each other, to work out differences in a calm, non-threatening and diplomatic manner. It is like home economics, finishing school, and going to therapy all rolled into one.
Who attended the open house?
The ribbon cutting ceremony was open to the public; the idea was to get as many people to view the facility and understand the issues in the community. Awareness is the key to understanding the mental health issues in our country. We are all touched by the disorders of schizophrenia, bipolar manic depression, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, recovering addiction and many other issues on a daily basis; it could be a friend, a neighbor, a relative, or somebody you see walking down the street.
For those in the health care industry or in law enforcement, the issues of mental health are even more serious; Sparks Justice Court Judge, Susan Deriso, attended the event. She was excited to learn of the program and commented that she “Sees people everyday that I can refer.”
Judge Deriso also asked Abbey if she could donate everyday usable items such as clothing, to which Abbey graciously accepted.
There were many therapists, nurses, law enforcement officials, and other members of the community in attendance.
Who cut the ribbon and made everything official?
Dollarhide, Abbey, and Amy Roukie, Regional Vice President of WestCare Nevada, Inc., collectively cut the ribbon, symbolically mimicking their collaborative effort between NNAMHS and WestCare.
As Dollarhide spoke, she reflected on part of the reason for the creation of The Dove House, “The jail is a bigger mental health hospital than we are,” she goes on to explain her feelings about it, “Frankly, I am stunned.”
Abbey is excited about the potential of the house; she looks forward to helping the residents, the savings to taxpayers and the results she will see with each of the participants of the program.
When will The Dove House Open?
The Dove House will be taking on the first two residents on Monday, July 15; when everything is running procedurally smooth, they will take on two more. Eventually, they will build up to 16 residents and be at full capacity.
If I missed the open house, can I come for a tour?
No. Once residents are in the house, they will be receiving intensive therapy and treatment. Participants will need to maintain a schedule and deserve to have their privacy respected; it is their home, so tours would not be appropriate.
The opening of The Dove House is an exciting time for the mental health community, for those in law enforcement, and for the community as a whole. This pilot residential treatment program is a step in the right direction to helping those with severe mental illnesses and teaching them how to manage their lives.
By Dawn Cranfield
US News Special Correspondent