Mental health crisis group recognized nationally

Published 6:55 pm Monday, May 16, 2016

A team of mental health crisis experts is being recognized on a national scale and putting eastern North Carolina on the map.

Integrated Family Services, a group focused on helping people experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues, nabbed a spot in National Council Magazine’s “Crisis to Recovery” edition, for its emphasis on the role of a support system in healing.

Although based in Ahoskie, Integrated Family Services serves more than 15 counties in the eastern part of the state, and has an office location in Washington.

One of its services includes a Mobile Crisis team, available 24 hours a day in the event of an emergency related to mental health or substance abuse, that steps in as the first line of defense to de-escalate the situation and provide resources.

Mona Townes, Mobile Crisis director, said a mass email was sent out to mental health services around the country about being featured in the magazine, and at first, she wasn’t sure if National Council would be interested in the Integrated Family Services program.

“Would they feature us? Would they even know on a map where we are located?” Townes recalled thinking at the time.

She said she could only write a few sentences to represent what the organization is about, and chose to focus on its aspect of building a support system.

Integrated Family Services focuses on the families, schools or resources around a client and uses these to build support and promote healing, according to Townes.

“We try to build rapport with people,” she said. “When we work with individuals who are in crisis, we try to include the natural support or even the professional support.”

That was the idea she wanted the magazine article to capture.

The full-page spread reads: “The goal is to deliver the appropriate level of crisis care and equip family members to provide support to prevent a crisis from happening again. Stronger families mean stronger, healthier communities. Integrated Family Services is here to put those puzzle pieces together and make sure they stay in place.”

Townes said she was proud to be featured and hopes providers across the country will be able to learn from what Integrated Family Services is doing, giving the organization more visibility.

“It lets the person know that we’re all in this together,” she said. “We get to put northeastern North Carolina on the map.”