Summit Convenes To Address Gaps in Mental Health Services

McKees Rocks law enforcement and emergency medical service officials said they’ve seen an uptick in mental health-related calls in recent years.

In an effort to face this issue head on and ramp up mental health services in the community, in partnership with Focus on Renewal, MRCDC launched bi-weekly summits that bring together 17 mental health service providers who will also tackle the gaps in McKees Rocks’ mental health services. You may have read about the initiative in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette back in February.

“We want to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for treating mental illness in the community,” said MRCDC Executive Director Taris Vrcek.

MRCDC is looking to participating providers, such as the Sto-Rox Neighborhood Family Health Center, to assess what the reality on the ground is here and how the community can provide better solutions to these problems that face not only McKees Rocks, but communities around the world.

“Mental health is something that many struggle with, and the variances in the illness make caring for patients much more challenging than simply checking a patient’s blood pressure or administering a flu shot,” said Sto-Rox Neighborhood Family Health Center Executive Director Father Regis Ryan. “Finding ways to provide effective care that can be adapted and maintained for the well-being of any patient that walks through our doors, or those of any other provider should be the goal.”

Vrcek said Sto-Rox is pursuing a more holistic, community-based treatment approach that includes working with individuals to prepare them for employment, helping them improve their nutrition education and their ability to take better physical care of themselves. He said connecting residents with the physical assets of the community, such as green spaces, trails, historic areas, arts, culture, education and people can enrich the quality of one’s life.

The plan is still in its early stages, but Vrcek said the talent of the professionals who are working together in the community impresses him. The participating partners are:

  • Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Allegheny HealthChoices, Inc.
  • Chartiers Center
  • Community Care Behavioral Health Organization
  • Community Human Services
  • Focus On Renewal
  • Gateway Rehabilitation Center
  • Life Pittsburgh
  • McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation
  • Mercy Behavioral Health
  • Ohio Valley Hospital
  • Partners For Quality
  • Peer Support and Advocacy Network
  • Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
  • Renewal, Inc.
  • Sto-Rox Neighborhood Family Health Center
  • UPMC
  • VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

“Together, with both internal and external partners we can find ways to provide a better quality of life for our residents. We’re not running from this issue, we’re embracing it,” said Vrcek.