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Agency Spotlight: LSS' Behavioral Health and PATH

Sioux Empire United Way funds several different programs within Sioux Empire United Way. Among the services provided are Behavioral Health Services and PATH. April Bolton, Associate Director at LSS provided some information about the services and how they've adjusted to continue to meet our community's needs in recent weeks.

 

Can you tell us about the Behavioral Health Services and PATH programs?
LSS provides behavioral health services to families, individuals, couples, and people from all different situations. The PATH program provides school-based mental health counseling within the Sioux Empire.

How do the services help people in crisis?
Counseling services support families and individuals during difficult times by helping people learn ways of managing stress and anxiety. PATH services help children with all different issues. PATH has helped children who may have experienced a loss of some kind, maybe a death in their family, or maybe parents are divorcing. Additionally, PATH helps students who are struggling with anxiety and depression which can become a crisis if not well managed.

How have your services evolved in relation to COVID-19?
Many of the individuals we serve have been affected by COVID-19 in various ways. All of our counselors, both in our outpatient services and our PATH program, have moved to provide telehealth services whenever possible. When serving younger individuals we usually play games or different learning activities to help address the treatment goals of that individual. This becomes difficult over telehealth and as a result, we have had to get creative about how to serve those youth. We have provided some families with workbooks or asked that parents provide basic toys or games to help our counselors continue to provide high quality services.

What does a current day look like now for your programs?
Overall it’s pretty similar where we see individuals/couples/families throughout the day and during the evening hours. The difference is that most of these meetings are held via computer screens versus face to face. Our offices are not open to the public, but we continue to have staff available to take calls and additionally, help get individuals set up for their first sessions through our intake department.

What is one unique thing you love about your role or LSS?
I think LSS as a whole has always been quick to shift or change as needs arise. The agency has a strong executive team that is meeting frequently to adjust services through the course of this pandemic. When I think of the counseling department, I find that we have the most talented, creative, and professional team of clinicians who are really going the extra mile to serve our clients and meet their needs.

What is something you want people in our community to know about needs and/or services in our community?
I want people to know that while the way we deliver services may have shifted; we are still here and still willing and able to help you through this difficult time. I want people to know that no matter your circumstance, it is always ok to reach out and talk to someone, even if it’s just one or two sessions. Sometimes that’s all you need, a non-biased person to help you figure out your next steps.

Have you personally adapted any new tips or tools as our community has practiced social distancing?
Personally, I have done a lot more “checking in” on people whether it’s staff, clients, friends, or family. I just want people to know that even though we are distant we’re still here. Also, I really enjoy grocery ordering and pick up. It took a bit to adjust to, but now I’ve got it down pat and probably will continue that beyond the pandemic.

What is something you have admired in our community in the last month that you maybe hadn’t noticed before?
I really admire how much this community supports small local businesses. I think this community really wants to take care of one another and so we are willing to shift some of our buying habits to support more families right here in the Sioux Empire. That’s also obvious in the continued success of the annual SEUW campaign hitting it’s funding goal each year.

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