behavioral health

Strengthening our region’s mental, emotional and behavioral health resources is one of FDRHPO’s original projects. In fact, our Behavioral Health Committee is our agency’s longest-standing committee!

The mind is part of the body, and we should treat it as such.

What began as a mission to connect soldiers and military families with mental health services in our community has expanded in many different directions and FDRHPO has become an advocate for mental wellness across the North Country region.

All of FDRHPO’s work around mental, emotional and behavioral health is grounded in one key idea — the mind is part of the body, and we should treat it as such.

With this philosophy in mind, FDRHPO is committed to helping our community integrate primary care and mental health services wherever possible. We believe patients who have depression, anxiety or other behavioral health concerns should be treated with the same courtesy, respect and attention to detail as those who have a broken bone, diabetes or a heart attack.

Utilizing state and federal funding, as well as close partnerships in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties and with Fort Drum, FDRHPO is also working to develop and strengthen behavioral health infrastructure; raise awareness of behavioral health to promote prevention, early intervention and treatment; reduce the stigma attached to mental illness; recruit and train specialized providers; prevent suicides in our communities, and increase access to services using telemedicine.

Our Behavioral Health Committee has wide representation from:
  • Community-based Organizations
  • State Psychiatric Center
  • Prevention Councils & Coalitions
  • County Community Service Departments
  • Veteran Service Centers
  • Fort Drum’s Behavioral Health Department
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Regional Planning Consortium
  • Local Hospitals & Health Centers
  • Behavioral Health Clinics
  • Substance Abuse Providers
  • State Department of Health Offices
  • Primary Care Practices

Improving Behavioral Health Access

Due to the hard work of many in our community, accessing mental, emotional and behavioral healthcare services has become easier for patients than it was in the past. While FDRHPO recognizes there is still much to be done to improve our region’s behavioral health infrastructure, there are also many improvements to celebrate.

Primary care and mental health services are more integrated now than ever before. Providers working in primary care settings have been exposed to training and education programs, such as: Mental Health First Aid, Problem Solving Treatment, and Motivational Interviewing — all of which assist with identifying and treating behavioral health problems.

Furthermore, many of our partners are using techniques like the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) to identify patients who may need additional behavioral health services.

FDRHPO has assisted with the implementation and funding of these programs, as well as with the recruitment and development of psychologists, psychiatrists, Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselors, social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioners and other human service professionals. Our telemedicine program is also helping to improve our region’s access to specialists through telepsychiatry and telepsychology.

We also maintain the Jefferson County Mental Health Educator website, a hub of information on mental health services, providers, trainings, and other information throughout the North Country. Click here to visit!

Reducing Stigma

In order to make a lasting impact and improve our region’s healthcare system, FDRHPO and its partners are also working to improve cultural competency.

Reducing stigma and fostering support for mental, emotional and behavioral health issues is important among healthcare providers, caregivers, family members and all other members of the community. To help spread the idea that a mental illness is not a character flaw, FDRHPO uses creative marketing and outreach strategies, such as geo-targeted mobile advertisements, locally-produced provider education videos, and even public service announcements at local movie theaters.

Click below to watch our Behavioral Health Provider Education Video

Want to learn more?

If you have questions about FDRHPO’s behavioral health priorities or initiatives, our behavioral health team can help you out! Get to know us below to see who might be your best contact.


Pat Fontana
Deputy Director