Montana Is Drunk And Missoula County Has A New Mental Health Provider To Commit You

by Travis Mateer

Today’s post is going to pair this NBC Montana article about rising alcohol use in Montana and this MC article about Missoula County inking a new contract with a different mental health provider for civil commitments.

With my decade of experience working at the Poverello Center and Missoula Aging Services I have seen first hand how our various systems of protection, like our legal system, deals with the combination of alcohol abuse and cognitive decline.

To put it bluntly, it can be a real shit-show.

Here’s how bad Montana’s alcohol problem has become:

The Department of Public Health and Human Services reported in 2019, the average number of adults over 25 who died from alcohol surpassed 101,000.

“When we begin to analyze the overall data from state by state, you do see that there are increases in almost every state,” noted Miller.

In Montana, the DPHHS reported over 3,100 deaths related to alcohol.

“(Montana) saw a 38% increase in alcohol deaths, deaths due to alcohol,” said Miller.

Miller stated Montana showed the highest alcohol increase compared to all other states.

Alcohol abuse makes assessing a person’s cognitive decline VERY difficult, especially if the aging alcoholic refuses to comply. In this kind of situation you would HOPE that the County Attorney’s office would use their powers of civil commitment to force an assessment, but from my experience the County Attorney’s office has been almost negligent in their reluctance to do this, even when the person is a CLEAR danger to themselves and others.

Apparently the problem identified by the Missoula County Attorney’s office is “predictability”. At least that is what we are being told as an explanation for why a new provider is getting the $375,000 dollar contract instead of Western Montana Mental Health. From the second link:

In the past, Conley said, the county has contracted with Western Montana Mental Health for its MHP services. After a request for proposals, however, the selection committee chose United Minds LLC for the service.

The contract runs three years and includes $120,000 the first year, $125,000 the second year and $130,000 the third year. The service begins in July.

“It’s an interesting contract because they have to be available every single business day of the entire year for us,” Conley said. “If we don’t have an MHP, we don’t go to hearing because we don’t have a witness to prove the person meets the criteria for commitment.”

Conley said that in the past, the MHP professionals have seen a lot of turnover. The contract with United Minds is expected to bring more predictability to the process.

I have NEVER heard of United Minds LLC and haven’t been able to find much about this mental health provider online. I think it used to be called Rising Phoenix Counseling Services.

The timing of this contract change is curious. Is it just a coincidence that Missoula County is giving Western Montana Mental Health Center (WMMHC) a major economic hit at the same time WMMHC is trying to sell off a property because of continued economic challenges from the Medicaid slashes Bullock ok’d a few years ago?

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the problem with how the County conducts civil commitments didn’t seem, at least to me, to be a matter of NOT having predictable Mental Health Professionals available for court. It was a matter of the Missoula County Attorney’s office using excuses for NOT using their commitment powers, like adults have the RIGHT to slowly die and put others at risk with their alcohol abuse.

This is a topic I’m hoping to discuss in a future episode of Zoom Town, so stay tuned.

And thanks for reading.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Montana Is Drunk And Missoula County Has A New Mental Health Provider To Commit You

  1. Big Swede says:

    Have you ever looked at the correlation between liberalism and mental health?

    • I’ll say that understanding the corruption of our two party political system has made me personally more mentally resilient and appreciative of efforts outside that narrow perspective, like agorism.

      • Big Swede says:

        No political affiliation mentioned in the survey Liz.

        Just liberals, moderates and conservatives.

  2. Pingback: Is Western Montana Mental Health Selling Off Properties A Result Of Steve Bullock’s Brutal Medicaid Cuts? | Reptile Dysfunction

Leave a Reply