(Oconomowoc, WI) Rogers Memorial Hospital has one of the few dual-diagnosis partial programs for mental health in the area. A highly specialized program, it was designed specifically to meet the needs of adults who have been diagnosed with a primary mental health disorder, followed by a diagnosis of substance dependence or abuse. Through education, therapy and support, the program strives to give patients the tools they need to recover and manage a healthy lifestyle.
“There are very few programs like this around,” Cathy Henricks, Clinical Services Manager, said. “By that, I mean programs that are dedicated solely to treating the dual population. Our program is unique in that it is very intentional about treating both diagnoses at the same time, and we created the program because the needs of that population were not being served.” In fact, the Journal of American Medical Association indicates 10 million people in the United States have a dual diagnosis, but only about 19 percent receive treatment for their problems at the same time.
Henricks, who helped to develop the program, manages the hospital’s Adult Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) (including depression/anxiety, eating disorders and dual diagnosis), the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the Adult Mental Health IOP and the Eating Disorder Child and Adolescent PHP. During her 25 years of experience, she’s noticed that people who suffer from two conditions are the rule, rather than the exception.
“For too long chemical dependency and mental illness have been treated as separate disorders,” Henricks said. “The reality is that over half the people with mental health disorders have substance abuse problems as well. The success of treating the chemical dependency is often rooted in simultaneously addressing mental health disorders that increase a patient’s tendency to provide inadequate self-care and use drugs and alcohol. In addition, we find that – in most cases – our patients have personal lives and relationships that are in disarray. To address these complex needs, our doctors and therapists are specially trained to assess and treat the whole person – mind, body and spirit – not just the chemical dependency. We believe this integrated, holistic approach offers patients the best chance for recovery and maximizes the value of services we provide.”
Dual Diagnosis and the Holidays
According to Henricks, the program usually sees an increase after the first of the year. “People make New Year’s resolutions and decide to get the help they need,” she said. “But the reality is that the holidays could be a time when the dual population needs the program the most. This time of year can be especially stressful with more exposure to temptations. Whether managing depression or an eating disorder, healthy coping skills are especially important during the holidays.”
In fact, while many recognize this time of year as a season of joy, there are many others who battle depression and anxiety. They are faced with more opportunities to succumb to drinking and eating in excess during the festivities. For them, the dual-diagnosis program can offer the support and tools they need to cope with the holidays and various everyday scenarios. The intensive program offers them a way to receive the therapy they need, while remaining at home and with family or friends.
“We work with our patients and help them to develop a plan that allows them to take care of themselves and learn healthy ways of managing anxiety and depression,” Henricks explained. “Without the proper management and coping skills, recovery is difficult. That’s how we can help. We work on the therapy piece – educating them further so they can take the necessary tools back to their everyday lives.”
About the Program
Designed for adults 18 and over, the partial program for dual diagnosis was designed those who have a primary diagnosis of mental illness. For these individuals, substance use or addiction can be an additional challenge. The partial hospitalization program is offered at the hospital’s Milwaukee (West Allis) location. Participants spend six hours or more a day, five days a week, in the program. The intensive, daily therapy offers structure for those living with a dual diagnosis. Participants are typically referred from inpatient psychiatric units or residential programs. About half of those involved in the program are stepping down from a higher level of care, so it can be transitional for some.