Community gathers to talk mental health, collaboration

Members of the community gathered to speak about Kodiak needs. Sandra Collins-Jackson stands far right. (Photo by Kayla Desroches/KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The community continued a discussion about behavioral health and drug treatment at a Providence Alaska-organized luncheon yesterday. It was part of a regional community board which meets yearly in the communities where Providence works.

They focused on the annual needs assessment the organization conducts every three years. The most recent one in Kodiak from 2016 identified substance abuse and behavioral health services as a primary concern.

Members of local government, law enforcement, and mental health professionals were among those to gather at Kodiak College to talk about ongoing issues – like limited resources or stigma – and possible solutions.

Meeting facilitator and private practice mental health counselor Sandra Collins-Jackson said community members met in February and started the process of identifying some of the current gaps in service.

“One of the things that came across loud and clear from persons who would be using services is that we do not use windows of opportunity effectively. So, that was one of the first thing we took a look at. If a person is ready, is there somebody there to receive that readiness, or do they have to wait a while?”

As a facilitator, Collins-Jackson said she recognized collaboration as a way forward.

She went on to explain how different organizations could provide resources, in the form of counselors for instance, in order to give assessments to people in the jail.

One person at the meeting, Jami Gibson, said she got clean in prison. She emphasized that, regardless of the resource, the motivation comes from the individual.

“We can have all of these NA, AA, KAMP, all of these other services, but I’m going to stress this once again, and I don’t mean to drop a bomb or anything like that, but if people don’t want to get clean, no matter what ya’ll put out there, those people are not gonna get clean.”

The meeting concluded with the idea of reaching out to people at the Kodiak Crab Festival in order to spread the word about the opioid crisis and the next Mayors’ Summit on Drugs. Crab Fest will begin Thursday and continue through Monday.

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