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Tri-County offers psychiatric services in Highlands County

SEBRING - One of every 10 Americans is depressed, along with one of every six unemployed workers and one of three seniors. "The holidays, the economy, all these types of things have an impact on our community," said Becky Razaire, outpatient program manager at Tri-County Human Services. The holidays are here, Highlands County has greater than 8 percent unemployment, and 32 percent of the population is 65 or older, so that means potentially 20,000 could have threatening conditions. "That would need to be determined during an assessment," Razaire said.
Tri-County has been contracted by the Central Florida Behavioral Health Network for more than three years to offer mental health services in Highlands County, said Razaire, a licensed mental health counselor. Two weeks ago, Tri-County began offering services in Lakeland. "You don't have to be in crisis," Razaire said. "If you just need somebody can talk to, you can come in on a walk-in basis. Do they need an intervention, are they feeling suicidal or homicidal? Maybe there is something we can do to resolve it." Although family doctors recommend psychiatric services for some clients, a referral is not needed, Razaire said. "We offer target case management," Razaire said. "Some folks are having problems with day-to-day functions, some may have been Baker Acted, some are trying to (stay) in the community and not go to a higher level of care, some may be coming back from a higher level of care. They may have a persistent mental illness, like depression." Tri-County, which headquarters in Bartow, has a full-time and a part-time psychiatrist, and two advanced registered nurse practioners who can prescribe medications. Several courses of treatment are offered: counseling, peer support and medication. In addition, Tri-County can arrange housing and free or reduced cost medications for clients who can't afford to pay. Most insurance programs cover psychiatry and mental health counseling, Razaire said. "We do take some private insurance, and we take Medicaid, but we do not take Medicare. For uninsured folks who have a limited income, we have a sliding pay scale." It's still unknown how the Affordable Care Act will affect mental health services, Razaire said. Tri-County is in Building E of the South Florida Community College campus, 100 W. College Drive in Avon Park, or 202 S. 9th Ave, in Wauchula. More info: 863-452-0106. gpinnell@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5828