Q&A with Donna Leslie / Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority
By: Lillian Lalo
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (ALABAMA NEWS NETWORK) – In early May, Lillian Lalo sat down with the Executive Director of the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority. They discussed important services The Mental Health Authority provides for our community.
What is the Montgomery area health authority?
We are a community nonprofit mental health center. We are the agency that provides mental health services to people who might not have insurance, or who are underinsured, or otherwise wouldn’t be able to get the services we offer.
We cover Montgomery County, Autauga, and Lowndes county. And we contract with the Alabama Department of mental health. So we are basically that safety net for individuals who would not get mental health services.
What specific services do you provide to those in need of assistance?
We provide services to adults, children, and adolescents.
We provide a whole continuum of services. For example, with outpatient services, you can see a counselor or therapist. You can see a doctor or a nurse practitioner if you need medication.
We do a lot of outreach. So we have case management services, in-home services, mobile services that can come to you.
For children, we are in the schools, and we provide school-based services. In addition, we have group homes, supportive housing, and supported employment. So, a little bit of everything! Many people don’t realize how much we do provide.
How much has your job changed since Covid?
It’s turned upside down.
We are now partnering with the Department of Mental Health to provide services for anybody that Covid has impacted. You don’t have to have a mental illness. But, suppose you need resources, like finding out where to get tested or vaccinated. A grant called “Alabama Apart Together” provides free counseling and free resources for anybody that is touched by Covid.
What do you say to people who might be afraid to ask for help because they don’t want to come across as…crazy?
Mental illness does not mean that you are crazy, that you are weak, that you shouldn’t ask for help… your brain is an organ like anything else. So, if I have diabetes, I’m not gonna be afraid to contact a doctor and get medication. It’s the same thing if you need assistance with what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It affects all of us.
What’s the easiest way for people to get in touch with you?
They need to call us. So we are available 24-7.
A lot of times, people don’t reach out until there’s an emergency. We don’t want mental health only to be when you’re in an emergency.
For more information on the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority, click here or call (334) 279-7830.