Western Montana Mental Health Center to Reopen in Libby

Mental health center closed in January 2018

By Justin Franz

After a two-year absence, the Western Montana Mental Health Center is reopening a branch in Libby.

Regional Director Abby Harnett said a recent restructuring within the organization has allowed it to renew its presence in Lincoln County. If everything goes according to plan, Western Montana Mental Health Center (WMMHC) will again be offering services in the Libby area in March.

“We want to ensure that our small communities have the same type of mental health services as our large ones,” Harnett said.

While WMMHC will still have a brick-and-mortar office in Libby, its services will look a little different to those who have used them in the past, Harnett said. The nonprofit will operate a Program for Assertive Community Treatment (also known as a PACT) in which staff members — including addiction counselors, nurses and psychiatric nurse practitioners — go into the community to meet with clients. Harnett said the PACT team would be made up of 10 to 12 staff members. Earlier this month, the health center held a job fair in Libby to help fill positions.

“We’re going to have a team of people going into the community and helping people where they are,” she said. “We’re going to have a team that will be able to provide 24 hours a day coverage.”

Currently, WMMHC has PACT teams in Kalispell, Missoula, Butte and Hamilton.

Harnett said the PACT model is successful and helps the organization reach the most people. She anticipates being able to serve up to 65 clients in the Libby area. Harnett said if the demand warrants it, the organization hopes to eventually open a day-treatment facility as well.

“We’re just really excited to be back in the community,” Harnett said.

When Western Montana Mental Health Center closed its clinic back in January 2018, local law enforcement reported dealing with more people in mental health crisis. According to Lincoln County Sheriff Darren Short, the community also saw an increase in people “self medicating” with drugs and other substances.

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