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Psychiatry Residents Advocate for Community Mental Health Services

Published May 17, 2017

Twenty residents in the Department of Psychiatry participated in a mental health awareness fair to advocate for services available in Erie County.

“Having the opportunity to speak with people in the community in need of treatment helped the residents to recognize how great a need there is for mental health providers and how valuable their work is.”
Megan McLeod, MD
Chief resident, Department of Psychiatry

Answering Questions on Referrals, Linking to Services

The residents represented the mental health services offered at the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) and answered questions regarding how to refer patients to the services, how to link with various services as a patient and who might be a good fit for these services.

They also distributed information about different mental health diagnoses and how to seek treatment.

Residents’ participation in the fair was part of the resident retreat, an annual event organized by the chief resident, that has them spend a day together as a group, away from their clinical sites.

“It is meant to be educational as well as an opportunity for the residents to share an experience, as we are usually working at different clinical sites,” says chief resident Megan McLeod, MD.

The theme of this year’s retreat was “advocacy.” After the fair, residents gathered for lunch and had small-group discussions about what they had learned and what they could do to advocate for mental health in the coming year.

Seeking to Address Service Gaps in Community

“Having the opportunity to speak with people in the community in need of treatment helped the residents to recognize how great a need there is for mental health providers and how valuable their work is,” McLeod says.

“It also helped residents to get a sense of how it can be difficult for some of these people to navigate the mental health system, and thus, how important it is for us to be advocates for our patients.”

McLeod says residents also had the opportunity to learn about other resources at the fair — such as case management services, free legal services and substance abuse treatment programs — helping them make connections and learn how to make referrals so they can better help their patients.

“During our group discussion, the residents were also encouraged to think about what service gaps exist in our community and brainstorm ideas to address these gaps,” she notes.

Organized by the Mental Health Association of Erie County Inc., the fair was conducted May 4 at the Downtown Central Library.