Monarch incorporates occupational therapy services in mental health treatment

Published 4:58 pm Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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Monarch, a statewide provider of services for individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders and intellectual and developmental disabilities in North Carolina, has announced plans to integrate occupational therapy into its comprehensive behavioral health treatment services.

Monarch will initially incorporate these services within its Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) in Stanly County. The CCBHC serves more than 1,500 people annually through mental health and substance use disorder services. The organization has plans to expand these services to other sites in the

“Occupational therapy services play an important role in mental health treatment and recovery,” said Monarch President and CEO Dr. Peggy Terhune, who is an occupational therapy professional by training. “We plan to create a holistic, occupational therapy program that will serve both the people we support and as a model for other mental health practices.”

Along with Terhune, Monique Lucas, director of integrated care, and Tomeico Faison, business consultant and occupational therapist with a private, community-based practice, will spearhead the integration of services.

Following a national search, Monarch has hired Charley Cross to serve as its first full-time occupational therapist. Cross is a recent participant in the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Emerging Leaders Program and an advocate for occupational therapy services.

While occupational therapy services are traditionally thought of in relation to recovery from injury or illness, they can also play a role in the treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders as patients work to care for themselves, engage in meaningful work and social activities and participate in the community.

Monarch’s integration of mental health and occupational therapy services is only the second of its kind at a CCBHC in the United States, and it will be unique in offering occupational therapy assessments, evidence-based interventions and data collection for value-based outcomes measurement.

Monarch’s CCBHC recently received a $3.9 million federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to continue the expansion of behavioral health services in Stanly County, including the integration of occupational therapy services.

“We are excited to bring this level of care into our CCBHC,” said Terhune. “We know occupational therapy services can positively impact treatment and recovery. This model will be a shining example of how innovative care can improve lives.”