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Advocates And Government Officials Discuss Idaho's Behavioral Health Strategy In Twin Falls

John Brannen, the director of Recovery in Motion in Twin Falls, stands at the front of a conference room at the College of Southern Idaho, as he gives a presentation at a behavioral health summit last week.
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
John Brannen is the director of Recovery in Motion in Twin Falls and helped organize a forum on behavioral health at the College of Southern Idaho.

Several crisis and recovery organizations in south central Idaho hosted a forum last week focused on Idaho’s new behavioral health plan.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen spoke at the event at the College of Southern Idaho, as well as people working for health organizations, teens leading a youth mental health group and an Idaho Department of Corrections reentry official.

“Recovery, substance abuse, mental health permeate everything we do in Idaho,” said Gov. Little, “whether it be our corrections systems, our courts, our hospitals, social services, schools and many other areas.”

Little created a behavioral health council last year by executive order. It has representation from all three branches of Idaho’s government, which delivered a set of 34 recommendations earlier this month.

The plan is centered around people struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse disorders. Some of the council’s top goals include boosting the number of certified behavioral health professionals in the state, increasing residential treatment options available for youth and promoting resilience in adolescents who’ve faced childhood trauma.

Idaho has one of the highest suicide rates and one of the highest state imprisonment rates in the country.

Katelynn Crabtree and Lexi Roberson run a youth mental health support group in Twin Falls called Warriors. They said they personally knew eight people in the last four years who died by suicide.

“We now ask for help from the Idaho legislators. What can you do, and what will you do, before more of us give up?” Crabtree said during their presentation.

“Those who have mental health and substance abuse disorders are not broken and need fixed; they’re hurt and they need to heal,” said John Brannen, the director of Recover in Motion, which hosts peer support groups.

Recovery in Motion and Magellan Health, a for-profit company that's preparing a bid for Idaho's behavioral health contract, hosted the event at CSI.

Little said the upcoming budget year will be important for the implementation of the recommendations.

“I know the legislature is going to be interested in putting money into behavioral health, substance abuse, particularly if it’ll build capacity,” he said.

He also mentioned Idaho’s recent agreement to a controversial opioid bankruptcy plan, which could net the state $22 million for drug education and recovery programs.

The behavioral health council will develop a plan to move forward with the recommendations by October 1.

Resources if you or someone you know is considering suicide:

Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline: Text or call 1-208-398-HELP (4357)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Options For Deaf + Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889

En español: 1-888-628-9454

Veterans Crisis Line & Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Press 1

Crisis Text Line: 741-741

In emergency situations, call 911.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.