Press Release

Press Release

Hope Garden at Rutland High School


On Thursday October 10th, coinciding with National Mental Health Day, a Hope Garden was planted by members of the Rutland High School student body.  The event was organized by the school’s chapter of Umatter.  Umatter at Rutland High School is a group of students who believe in the importance of mental health challenges and suicide awareness and prevention.  As outlined by the Umatter website it is the belief of members that “Everyone has a contribution to make, something important to do, and a purpose waiting to be fulfilled.  Sometimes people experience mental health challenges, disorders, or illnesses that are significant and require extra help.  The message is: you matter because you may need help, and you matter because you may be in a position to help.  In an effort to boost awareness of the issues at hand, the organization decided to plant a Hope Garden. A very specific Hope Garden inspired by the Yellow Tulip Project.  Yellow Tulip Project was started by Julia Hansen who has had struggles with her own mental health and who has also lost her two best friends to death by suicide.  Her hope and the mission of the Yellow Tulip Project are to “Smash the Stigma” of mental health and to talk about mental health and suicide and let people know they aren’t alone. The significance of the Yellow Tulips are related to the friends she lost and her one friend who loved tulips and her other friend whose favorite color was yellow. 

Under the supervision of Nancy Ivey, a dedicated and devoted social worker at Rutland High School, the group took charge of the event from requesting donations of tulip bulbs in the community, to creating presentations and posters, to taking an active role in promotion throughout the school to get other members of the student body to participate.  The event saw about 100 students take part in the activities that included a presentation by members of the Umatter club, a chance to write down their own individual hopes for their lives, and the actual planting of the Hope Garden in the front courtyard of the school.  A second ceremony will be planned for the Spring as the tulips break through and become a welcoming reminder that mental health and suicide awareness and prevention should not be ignored.  For my own part, it has been amazing to be welcomed into the group with these passionate youth and to be able to be part of something that can hopefully make a difference and let others know, someone is there to help.

Barrett Hughes, MS, NCC, LCMHC

School Based Clinician – Rutland High School

Rutland Mental Health

(802) 770-1227

Hope Garden
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AnnouncementsPress Release

Suicide – The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect Flyer

Community Care Network, Rutland Mental Health Services will present a film and a movement for hope and healing.

Wednesday, September 25th, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., in the Community Access Program conference room on the first floor, 78 South Main Street, Rutland, Vermont.

This event is free and open to the public.

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AnnouncementsPress Release

The State of Vermont Department of Mental Health Statewide Listening Tour

DMH 6-18-19 Rutland Invitation Final

The Department of Mental Health is scheduling listening tours around the state based on their commitment described in Act 200, Section 9 Evaluation of the Mental Health System of Care report.

The first forum will be held in Rutland on June 18th with two available sessions:

Afternoon from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM, or,

Evening from 5 PM to 8 PM. (A light dinner buffet will be available in the evening session.)

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Press Release

Improving mental health for older Vermonters saves lives and money


By Cinda Donton, Eldercare Clinician, Rutland Mental Health Services

May 20 marks National Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day, creating an opportunity to raise recognition in our communities around the importance of supporting older Vermonters in maintaining good mental health. 

Twenty years ago, a one-year experiment concluded, and it was deemed a success.  The year prior, $15,000 of state funds were allocated to purchase mental health expertise from Northeast Kingdom Human Service.  This fortuitous collaboration was intended to fill a gap in services to some of the area’s most vulnerable citizens—homebound older Vermonters with mental health needs.  Interested parties followed the experiment, and at the conclusion of the trial year, the Vermont State Legislature set aside a small sum of money to fund a continuation of the project throughout the state.  The Eldercare program – as it is known, was born, and although underfunded, remains active in most counties in Vermont today.

These services make a real difference in people’s lives. Take the story of Frida for example, based on a real-life case study of a client. Frida was referred to an eldercare clinician after overdosing on pain medication to escape her physical and emotional pain.  She had a history of trauma and long-term physical abuse, and had tried drinking to relieve her suffering. Frida was depressed, anxious, ashamed and angry with herself as her doctor would no longer prescribe pain medication due to the overdose. Frida lived in a rural setting, was estranged from her family and had no peer supports.  With the support of the clinician who met with her, Frida worked on mindfulness techniques to assist her in coping with chronic pain.  She also learned to think about her experiences in new ways which were less painful.  The clinician taught Frida to offer herself support and self-compassion, and to focus on her strengths and capabilities.  Frida adopted a dog who became her constant companion, bought herself a computer, and subscribed to the Boston Globe. She also joined a church where she did public speaking. She became interested in the world rather than focusing on her pain level. Ultimately, she became a part of her family again.  At the conclusion of her treatment she told the clinician who worked with her, “I have learned not to focus on the pain and bad memories.  Now I focus on all that is in my life and I feel grateful.” 

With a growing population of older Vermonters comes a greater demand for these critical mental health services.   There are various reasons for this: some older citizens experience a loss of roles, a sense of purpose, or increased isolation – or a combination of all these factors.  Others lose supports through moves or death which causes grief to mount.

Some older Vermonters experience significant changes in functioning and health which can lead to anxiety, depression, mood dysregulation and grief.  Individuals with breathing disorders often experience considerable levels of anxiety, especially upon exertion.  Studies also show that physical disability and illness can trigger mental health disorders and mental health disorders can lead to worsening physical health. Loss of mobility, chronic pain, the onset of Parkinson’s disease, dementias, complications of diabetes, strokes, and vision and hearing loss can demand big adjustments that older folks may need assistance making. 

Currently, the specialized knowledge needed to begin to adequately address the intertwined mental and physical health needs of our older neighbors is limited, yet growing.  Programs and funding to expand mental health care for this population are sorely needed, including the need to support family caregivers in Vermont who shoulder most of the load for older Vermonters who have experienced disabling conditions.  Ultimately, proper treatment of mental health concerns for our older citizens will not only improve the overall health of this state, but will also bring down health care costs.  This op-ed was written by Cinda Donton, Eldercare Clinician with Rutland Mental Health Services.

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AnnouncementsPress Release

Children’s Mental Health Maze


Community Care Network/ Rutland Mental Health Services will host “How to Survive and Thrive in the Children’s Mental Health Maze” presentation to build awareness of the children’s mental health system, available community resources, and help participants feel more empowered to advocate for their children. The event will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, in the Education and Wellness Center, 78 South Main Street. Access is from Engrem Avenue.

For more information or registration, call 802-775-2381 or email

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AnnouncementsLatest NewsPress Release

The Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Room is Open at Court Square


The new Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) space is now in use at Court Square by the RMHS Early Childhood program.  An Early Childhood clinician observes the parent-child interactions through a one-way mirror, and coaches the parent during the sessions through a remote audio device. Lauren Norford reports that the new space is a great improvement and that the clinicians continue to see families reaching excellent outcomes.  They are still using 10 Engrem Avenue for overflow clients and younger children when needed.  And the addition of outpatient clinician Billy Day now extends the program beyond early childhood; PCIT is for ages 2½ to 6.

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AnnouncementsPress Release

Early Childhood Program Receives Stewart’s Holiday Match

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The Rutland Mental Health Services Early Childhood Program received Support from Stewart’s Shops Again this year.

Lauren Norford, Director of RMHS Early Childhood Program, reports that the Behavioral Health Early Childhood Program has received $500 from Stewart’s again this year. The donation was collected and matched in its shops from Thanksgiving until Christmas since 1986. Stewart’s credits the success of this program to its customers for their generous contributions, the dedicated shop partners who worked diligently to collect the funds, and to media partners who helped spread the word throughout the region. These funds will be used to support the work the Early Childhood team is doing with Parent Child Interaction Therapy (for behavior disturbance) and Child Parent Psychotherapy (for trauma) for children and families in the Rutland Community. Visit Stewart’s

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