New Website Addresses Behavioral Health Issues

Aug 24, 2005
Newport News-Times

Ann Davis joined Lincoln County Health and Human Services Director Jan Kaplan in debuting the county's "Network of Care" website last Wednesday at the county board of commissioners' meeting.

The site, says Davis, an assistant in the county HHS department, "is an easy to use, easy to navigate, no-wrong-door portal for individuals, families, and agencies dealing with behavioral health, addictions and developmental disabilities issues. And it's really easy to navigate."

Regardless of where the individual, family or agency is, or where they begin their search for assistance, Davis says, the new website will enable individuals to find the right service at the right time; educate themselves about relevant issues; understand current policy questions and initiatives; advocate to elected officials; and better manage their affairs and their records.

Davis will be providing county employees involved with behavioral healthcare services with website training in the next few weeks. She will be delivering training sessions for county Health and Human Services Department staff in Newport, Lincoln city in Waldport.

The website is available not only in English, but in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog (the Filipino language) and other languages. And it also provides links to breaking news in relevant fields from workplace issues to potential stem cell research breakthroughs.

But most importantly, says Davis, it provides easy access to "an extensive directory" of information about services, support systems and advocacy options for individuals and families dealing with behavioral healthcare issues such as addictions, mental illness and developmental disabilities.

For those not too familiar with navigating the net however, a word of caution: the links to a series of categories of information - services, library, legislation, insurance, support and advocacy, and more - are all "off-screen" on the right hand side of the initial main screens. They are there, but users will have to scroll right to see them.

The site is provided to the county via a contract with Trilogy Integrated Resources, a company that works with state and county governments and other local human service entities to establish one-stop information places centered on interactive community-based websites.

The system also offers online forums and chat rooms, where people can discuss family issues or their own, with other individuals and families facing similar issues.

The website also makes the required disclaimer that its materials, although related to health and medicine, are made available for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice or care.

A look at it "message boards" gives an idea of the range - both geographical and in terms of subject matter - the website opens to its users. It offers message boards about low-cost medical insurance, adopting the homeless, the regulation of independent living facilities, support for transitioning youth, abuse of inhalants, and low-cost medications, among other matters. It can also link users to a service provider in central Virginia, an office share in Los Altos (Calif.) and a bipolar support group in San Diego County.

Under the heading of "links," the website offers access to county and city facilities. Not all, as it turned out, are necessarily mental-health services providers. Under cities, it provides links to the Depoe Bay city website and the Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce, and similar links to similar websites are offered for other towns in Lincoln County.

But for those who want to learn more about low-cost insurance available in Oregon, the web page on insurance offers links to Medicaid, Medicare, the Oregon Health Plan, and the Family Health Insurance Assistance Program.

For individuals who may not have their own computer to access this website through the l