By Andrew Thornebrooke of The East Greenwich Pendulum
June 1, 2020
WARWICK—Local nonprofit Thrive Behavioral Health is adapting to the pandemic and its associated malaise by offering telehealth services for clients who may be struggling with mental illness, substance abuse or homelessness. The organization’s leadership hopes that the effort will help its missions of improving the quality of life of people in the community by promoting growth, mutual interdependence and recovery, even amid pandemic. Thrive CEO Daniel Kubas-Meyer issued a statement regarding the organization’s foray into telehealth.
“In this unprecedented time of uncertainty and change, many individuals are experiencing increased mental health symptoms including anxiety and depression,” Kubas-Meyer said. “Teletherapy is a valuable resource for individuals to gain immediate access to tools that will help them cope during this stressful time.”
Thrive was formed in 2017 with the merging of The Kent Center and Riverwood Mental health Services, both with their own history of community involvement stretching back to 1976. The organization has drawn no shortage of praise from familiar local faces, such as drug program director Bob Houghtaling, and its members are hoping to demonstrate the efficacy of their newly digitized therapeutic offerings. G. James Manko, program manager for Thrive’s adult outpatient behavioral health initiative spoke to the importance of the telehealth initiative.
“Teletherapy is proving to be a very effective service delivery system for treating mental health and substance use problems,” Manko said. “Many of our clients actually prefer it to face-to-face therapy as it removes many barriers to access.”
Manko’s outpatient services include individual, group and family counseling, psychiatric medication evaluation and management, case management services for victims of trauma, and care for sufferers of substance abuse and co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues. In all, clients at Thrive are encouraged to become active partners in their treatment and view the challenges they face as opportunities for personal growth.
While the newly implemented teletherapy program is surely a welcome additional resource for those seeking treatment or in need of adjustments to their medication, it has yet to be revealed just how deeply affected other systems of care provided by Thrive will be affected in the long term by COVID-19 and the move to the digital landscape. Community support, housing services, case management, crisis response and educational initiatives are all incorporated under Thrive’s umbrella of support, but how effectively they can be maintained without face-to-face contact is unknown.
The organization currently offers behavioral healthcare programs and services annually to over 3,700 children, adolescents, adults and seniors and aims at providing recovery-oriented, trauma-informed and family-focused programs and services. It is a founding member of Horizon Healthcare Partners (HHP) and is one of only three nationally certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics in Rhode Island, as created through the “Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Act,” an initiative to expand access to behavioral healthcare in America.