Roundtable discussion

The panel of subject experts speaking on mental health and substance abuse disorders were, from left: Christina Borst, Jeff Kraft, Whitney Brewer, Carmen Staigmiller, Aaron Skaggs and Paul Bradbury.

Approximately 50 concerned citizens attended the community roundtable on mental health and substance use disorders at the Stage Stop Inn Jan. 29, with about another 20 watching the live stream online. Among them were health service providers, educators, parents and others who have been personally affected by mental illness, addiction and substance use disorders.

These issues have become a priority for county residents in recent years. Teton County Health Department Director Melissa Moyer opened discussion by sharing data from the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment. Part of the assessment included a survey of 130 participants. From that group, 70 percent listed addiction and alcohol/drug abuse and 54 percent listed mental health in their top three health concerns.

The local professionals who deal with mental illness and substance use disorders in their everyday lives are concerned, as well. The roundtable featured an expert panel, comprised of Montana State University College of Nursing instructor Christina Borst, BTMC physician assistant Paul Bradbury, Power Public Schools teacher and counselor Whitney Brewer, Teton County Deputy Sheriff Jeff Kraft, licensed clinical professional counselor Aaron Skaggs with Summit Counseling Services in Choteau and family nurse practitioner with Frontier Family Practice Carmen Staigmiller. In answering questions from Acantha editor and discussion facilitator Melody Martinsen, the panelists described the most emergent issues they face, what they’re currently doing to help and what they’d like to see in the future.