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Community Spotlight: People Inc. Mental Health Services

An interview with Kelsey Dahl, Targeted Case Manager II

1/11/2021 10:42:00 AM

People Inc. logo on white background

Community interview with Kelsey Dahl, Targeted Case Manager II with People Incorporated Mental Health Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) - Ramsey County. Interviewed by Kaitlyn Mielke

Please share a bit about the history of the Targeted Case Management DHHS program under People Incorporated, and what the mission is.

Kelsey: The mission of People Incorporated Mental Health Services is “supporting mental health and wellness in our community through collaboration and integration of care.” Back in 1969, Rev. Harry Maghakian, pastor at the Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, was troubled by the poverty and despair of his community. In particular, his big heart went out to the men living in the rooming house behind his church. Most of them had come out of the military suffering from mental illness. To mask their symptoms, they were using drugs and alcohol. Harry invited them in off the streets to gather around the table in his church basement. From here, other congregations and concerned citizens became involved and this collaboration officially became People Incorporated. The organization grew quickly and is known for helping the most vulnerable that are struggling with mental health issues.

For years, St. Peter’s psychiatric hospital was the only option in Minnesota for a deaf program but it was forced to shut it down due to overcrowding and lack of funding.

Learn more about the advocate who stepped in to help – Petra F. Howard

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1991, good interpreting services in social work did not exist. Targeted Case Management demands that case managers are able to communicate in American Sign Language (ASL) in order to support outreach with Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind. This population needs to be able to live independently as much as possible during the transition period from institution to community and/or group homes while receiving integrated care. Historically, that is how Targeted Case Management was set up. In 1977, People Incorporated opened a program for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and have mental illness and hired staff who were deaf. In 2018, I became the first Deaf Targeted Case Manager at People Incorporated. Our team grew rapidly because individuals like to communicate with their peers in native sign language.

What services are available through the Targeted Case Management DHHS program?

Kelsey: At People Incorporated’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS), case managers meet with the recipient on at least a monthly basis, assess their needs and work with the individual to create a treatment plan. The case manager coordinates services with other providers to assist the individual with satisfying the goals of the treatment plan. Areas addressed include medical monitoring, financial stability, and assistance, vocational coordination; help with independent living skills, housing assistance, and problem-solving. We provide a culturally and linguistically accessible case management service for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind adults.

Who benefits from these services? What is the criteria to qualify?

Kelsey: DHHS serves residents of Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, and Ramsey counties who are 18+. Individuals living outside the county’s jurisdiction or who do not meet the criteria of the county’s intake department are not eligible. These individuals must have SPMI (Severe Persistent Mental Illness) diagnosis, and fit criteria of the definition of a vulnerable adult. We provide services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind individuals with hearing loss. Most of these services are covered by Medical Assistance insurance and other MN Health Care Plans. Some private insurers may require copays to be met. Details can be reviewed during the intake process.

What does the referral process look like?

Kelsey: People with mental health issues often find it difficult to navigate the system of available care, leaving many to fall through the cracks. The Central Access team that answers these calls are compassionate, patient, knowledgeable and able to help people get the right care. They also work closely with referents – Central Access 651.774.0011.

What other programs for D/HH are available under the People Incorporated umbrella?

Kelsey: Due to COVID-19, the Drop-In Center and DMHS Outreach Services are temporarily closed.

Deaf Mental Health Services (DMHS) has a Drop-in Center in Minneapolis for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or DeafBlind with a mental health diagnosis. This is a free membership to socialize with other Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind adults for fun activities two times a week.

DMHS Outreach Services: Our staff visit individuals in their homes and provide one-to-one CADI and TBI life skills supports. We monitor participants for indications of mental health decompensation, and communicate with appropriate mental health professionals. Staff can also provide liaison between the participants and other agencies such as public housing. Participants are also encouraged to utilize the DMHS Drop-In Center for group education, peer support, and social activities.

Adult Foster Care (Anoka/Dakota/Hennepin/Washington Counties), specifically, Penn House and Scott House in Minneapolis, serve adults (18+) who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or DeafBlind who use or want to use sign language as their primary mode of communication.

Deaf Supportive Living (DSL) provides 24-hour customized living services for adults who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or DeafBlind, who use or want to use sign language as their primary mode of communication and who experience a mental illness. These services are provided in a twelve-unit apartment building in Northeast Minneapolis. Staff help participants learn how to manage their finances, housing, medical care, community resources, transportation and other life skills.

Is there anything you would like to add and/or share with the community?

Kelsey: Our team is growing rapidly – providing so many services to support independence in the community for people that struggle with homelessness, communication barriers, housing, and much more. I hope one day this program can expand to more counties within the state of Minnesota. There is a high demand for these services in deaf/hard of hearing communities. I am also on the board for the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens (MADC) nonprofit organization. I have been advocating for the installation of videophones at homeless shelters and other resources that are lacking for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind community.

How can interested folks get involved? (Contact info for further info- website, email, contact person, etc.):

Kelsey: Call Central Access at 651.774.0011 to learn more or connect with Deaf and Mental Health Services. and People Incorporated website

Deaf Supportive Living
People Incorporated
726 2nd Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Phone: 612-331-3525
TTY: 612-623-1045
Fax: 612-331-3587

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