Providing needed support to adults and youths in Otter Tail County with mental health issues is the responsibility of the county’s human services employees.

“Our goal is to provide access to the right level of treatment,” said Margaret Williams, behavioral health social services supervisor, to county board members on Nov. 17.

Williams said that many adults suffering from mental illness ask for help themselves from county human services, others come via referral from the county court system and others received help after family members contact county human services.

“Oftentimes, mental illness and chemical dependency go hand in hand for an individual. Obviously, this results in more challenges,” Williams said.

“The good news is that we have experienced and knowledgeable staff who maintain good working relationships with service providers such as Lakeland Mental Health Center based in Fergus Falls.”

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One of the goals of county human services is to provide more help to those residing at the county jail. Maximizing community resources is part of this effort, Williams added.

Suicide prevention is another challenge, she said.

Addressing county board members about children’s mental health was Kim Kambel-Seufert, lead social worker in Otter Tail County.

“Our programs are designed to support children and adolescents experiencing severe emotional disturbances,” she said, “and we also work directly with their families.”

There is a collaborative program to help troubled youths, in coordination with adjoining counties, noted Kambel-Seufert. She adds that youth social workers also seek assistance from providers such as Lakeland Mental Health Center.

“We continued to explore treatment options and work to be creative, in addressing the needs of the children and their family members,” she said.

The overall objective in helping both adults and children with mental health needs is to improve functioning within home, school and community settings.