Mental Health America brings services to Beaufort County

Published 8:08 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

A new service for mental health patients is branching out to help residents of Beaufort County.

Mental Health America is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and support to patients transitioning from inpatient to outpatient services. The organization’s eastern North Carolina branch, formerly known as Pitt Collaborative on Mental Health Services & Substance Abuse, is expanding its services to this area.

“Basically what we do is we work with other companies, kind of as a liaison, and we refer individuals to services that are already in that community and/or services that they may be able to use in different surrounding areas,” said Asia Boyd, peer navigator at newly named Mental Health America of Eastern Carolina. “We’re always proactive in the community trying to find different resources and different things that can help any individual.”

Some of those services include housing and shelter, food pantries, legal help and vocational support, Boyd said.

Boyd said, as a peer navigator, she is able to speak to patients 24 hours a day who may need encouragement or someone to talk to after a stressful day. The peer navigator program offers emotional support as a patient learns to cope and continue recovery in everyday life, she said.

Last month, Mental Health America of Eastern Carolina was awarded $10,000 from Vidant Beaufort Hospital’s Community Benefit Grants Program to implement the peer navigator program in Beaufort County.

“We are proud to support Mental Health America of Eastern Carolina, and we are looking forward to the impact that their work will make in our area,” said Jennifer Lewis, community health improvement coordinator at Vidant Beaufort. “Connecting patients to needed resources helps improve continuity of care and better clinical outcomes.”

Mental Health America also addresses the consequences of the stigma associated with mental health problems. Mental health encompasses a wide range, from general anxiety and depression, to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, to substance abuse. It can also involve simply learning how to cope in everyday situations of stress.

Some of these problems are more widespread than many people realize. North Carolina ranks 35th in the nation regarding the prevalence of mental health issues, according to data from MHA.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that nearly 1 in 5 Americans will have a diagnosable mental health disorder in their lifetimes. Fifty percent of these cases occur before the age of 14 and 75 percent before the age of 24, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

“Our goal as staff is to let them know they’re not alone. When it’s appropriate, we’ll share our experiences,” nurse Ginger Moore, who works with patients at Vidant Beaufort, said in a previous interview. “I think that the biggest thing, people are ashamed, and they shouldn’t be ashamed.”

Despite such prevalence, these patients still struggle in society after receiving treatment and struggle to find stability, whether it’s reintegrating into the workforce or finding emotional support from understanding loved ones, Boyd said.

“As individuals are going through recovery, and they’re trying to get their life back in order, typically they tend to burn bridges because they’re going through either dealing with substance abuse, or they’re dealing with a mental diagnosis that people do not understand because of the stigma that goes along with the both of those,” she said.

That’s where MHA can step in and be a support system for those patients. Services provided by MHA are free.

“We would like to provide them support, so when they’re going through those new transitions in their life and trying to get their life back on track, they have someone that can help them up, as well as help them set goals,” Boyd said.

For more information about Mental Health America of Eastern Carolina, call 252-368-6472, or visit