SIERRA VISTA — Cochise County Health and Social Services is working to better serve the area by completing a community capacity assessment to identify local behavioral health professionals and resources available in the area.
For the past nine months, a team from the Cochise County Health and Social Services department has been gathering information in regards to how many providers and behavioral health credentials are being utilized in the county.
Carrie Langley, director for Cochise County Health and Social Services, said the assessment is completed every three to five years by the Public Health Department.
“It’s (conducting the assessment) best practice and the right thing to do for the community,” Langley said. “The intent was we wanted to know our capacity to support prevention activities to support treatment and recovery and behavioral health.”
Although the assessment isn’t complete Helena Whitney, of Health Associates Inc., presented and update to attendees of the Community Mental Health Summit on Tuesday at Cochise College Downtown Center.
More than 100 people from a broad representation of general health care providers, first responders, local politicians and interested members of the public attended the event.
Langley said her and her team used the state licensing board database, which is available to the public, to find licensed behavioral health professionals in the 6,200 square mile county.
That search yielded roughly 50 results, but Langley and here team are certain there are more behavioral health professionals in the county because their licenses could have Phoenix, Tucson or addresses from other cities within the state.
“We don’t have a community picture, and by ‘community’ I mean ‘county,’” Langley said. “We want to understand, do we have enough capacity in prevention for adults and youth to keep people from having a substance problem.”
According to the presentation, which does not hold the complete data, the county appears to be heavily lacking in counselors, psychiatrists and prevention programs.
Calculating an Adequate System Tool (CAST), which Whitney says is used “to evaluate the capacity of the substance abuse care system within a defined geographic area,” was used for the assessment. In also looks at promotion, prevention, referral, treatment and recovery access in the area.
It was identified that the county needs 48 counselors licenced by the state to assist clients with drug and alcohol issues, 22 psychiatrists listed as specializing in substance abuse and addictions, 40 individuals religious or spiritual professionals providing substance abuse therapy counseling, 41 parenting education for individuals with a use disorder and 31 community-based prevention programs.
At the time of the presentation all these categories are shown to be underserved in the community. Eight counselors, one psychiatrist, zero religious or spiritual professionals, three parenting education individuals and three community-based prevention programs have been identified so far.
All of the numbers are most likely going to change after the team conducts a filtration process and more healthcare professionals come forward.
Langley invites all Cochise County behavioral healthcare professionals to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with their contact info and their consent to participate in the assessment. She said someone from her team will reach out to gather more information.
The goal is to have all additional information by the end of June.