FAQs

This is a complete listing of all our frequently asked questions, listed by subject:

About BayView FAQsTop

Who benefits from BayView’s services?

People that would benefit from BayView’s services will be dealing with emotional or psychological issues that interfere with their ability to function in their day-to-day living. Our professional clinicians assess our patients’ concerns and then determine the appropriate treatment or referral.

At BayView, we believe our patients will respond to best-practice treatment approaches in all therapeutic interventions that we provide.

Patients requiring a higher level of care would be referred to an appropriate provider where they would receive the services they need.

What licenses do BayView staff members have?

All BayView direct-care staff members are licensed independent practitioners and meet state and professional certification requirements. Our therapists, physicians, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses all possess licensure and certification by appropriate state or professional agencies.

What services are offered through BayView?

  • Individual counseling
  • Play therapy
  • Group counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Marital counseling
  • Crisis intervention
  • DOT required SAP assessments
  • Psychiatric services
  • Medication management
  • Substance abuse services
  • Parent education
  • Psychological testing

BayView also offers services designed for business owners

BayView also offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) by which employers may contract for specified services with BayView. An EAP is a counseling service free to employees and their eligible dependents who may be experiencing personal or workplace problems.

May I use insurance at BayView to pay for services?

Yes. BayView’s clinical services are covered under most private health insurance and private pay.

How do I schedule an appointment?

To make a first‑time appointment, please call (251) 660-2360 or (888) 335-3044 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. during a regular workday. Specialized evening services may be offered that you may discuss with your provider at your first appointment.

Adolescent Substance Abuse Services FAQsTop

Who is eligible

Adolescents aged 12-18 who are struggling and experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol.

Who can refer

Anyone can make referrals, juvenile courts, probation officers, DHR, school agencies, parents, or the adolescent may self-refer.

What we do

  • Conduct psychological testing.
  • Provide individual, family, and group counseling as determined on an individual basis.
  • Provide education and information about drugs and alcohol.
  • Provide random drug tests and breath analysis.
  • Collaborate with outside agencies as appropriate.

What we believe

  • The beginning of addiction often develops in teen years.
  • Addiction is a chronic, progressive, incurable disease.
  • If left untreated, the disease will severely interfere with one’s ability to function in one or more areas of life.
  • Treatment works and each person must take full responsibility for themselves. 

Program benefits

  • Enhances an adolescent’s social skill.
  • Helps adolescents achieve a drug free lifestyle.
  • Enriches family relationships.
  • Improves an adolescent’s academic participation.
  • Decreases delinquent behaviors in adolescents.

Adult Substance Abuse Services FAQsTop

Medication-Assisted Treatment (Methadone)

This program is devised for patients with an opiate dependency, test positive for opiates and have a desire to conquer their addition. It provides a strictly supervised methadone reduction regimen in addition to supportive therapy and case management.

Office hours:
5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Monday through Friday
6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. – Saturday and Sunday

Groups:  Seven days a week
Intakes: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Monday and Wednesday
Transfers: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Dosing:
5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Monday through Friday
6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. – Saturday and Sunday

Intensive Outpatient Services for Women

Designed specifically for women, this program meets three times a week and consists primarily of group counseling sessions designed to promote a life free from addiction. Pregnant women always receive priority.

Office Hours:
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Monday through Friday

Group Sessions:
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

Intensive Outpatient Services (Oasis)

Geared toward the working patients, this program meets four times a week and consists primarily of group counseling sessions designed to promote a life free from addiction. Pregnant women always receive priority.

Office hours:
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. – Thursday

Group sessions:
5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Thursday

Expanded Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Designed for patients with mental health issues and substance abuse problem, this treatment addresses these entwined issues with an integrated treatment plan developed to effectively treat both disorders concurrently. Pregnant women always receive priority. This program is offered in Mobile.

Office hours:
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Monday through Friday

Group sessions:
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

AltaPointe CareersTop

How can I find out what positions are currently available?

You will find a complete listing of open positions by clicking “Apply Online” on this page.

How do I apply for a position at AltaPointe?

Follow the instructions for applying in the “Careers” section of this website. Select the “Online Application” option. Choose from our listing of open positions and click on the Apply Now button.

How does the application process work?

  • You create a profile and attach your resume and then apply to jobs of interest.
  • All applications are reviewed.
  • We will call you for an interview if your qualifications meet our requirements and you are a preferred candidate for the position.
  • You will be contacted by an HR representative if you are selected for an interview or you will receive an email if the position you applied to closes.
  • To be considered for more than one job, you will need to apply to each opportunity individually. Once a position is closed, the application has expired unless you have applied for another position.

If I’m offered a job, what will I be required to do?

  • Submit proof of authorization to hold employment in the United States.
  • Pass a pre-employment physical, including a drug screen, prior to beginning work.
  • Attend a new employee orientation

What does AltaPointe’s benefits package include?

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Cancer Insurance
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Short-term and Long-term Disability Insurance
  • Cafeteria/Section 125 Plan
  • Life Insurance
  • Personal Time Off and Paid Holidays
  • Principal 403(b) Retirement Plan
  • Licensure Supervision for LPC and LCSW

BayView-Call CarePointe for an AppointmentTop

How do I schedule an appointment?

To make your first appointment at BayView, call CarePointe at (251) 660-2360 or (888) 335-3044. For an appointment at one of AltaPointe Health Systems other programs, call (251) 450-2211. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each weekday, our specialists screen patients to determine their needs, schedule appointments, handle hospital referrals and connect callers with the appropriate services within the AltaPointe system and in the community.

What should I expect when I call?

A CarePointe specialist will conduct an assessment and screening over the phone. Subsequent appointments may be made at the BayView Professional Associates’ office where you receive your care.

If after answering a number of questions it is determined that you, your loved one or friend would benefit from another provider or other community agency, AltaPointe will assist you by making the appropriate referral in the community.

What information will I need to supply?

  • Caller’s Name (and/or name of individual in need of services)
  • Date of Birth
  • Home Address
  • Insurance Information
  • Social Security Number

What questions might I be asked?

  • Have you ever been a patient at AltaPointe?
  • Describe your current signs/symptoms.
  • Are you able to sleep? Is your sleep affected?
  • Have you had an increase or decrease in appetite?
  • Do you believe you are a danger to yourself?
  • Do you believe you are a danger to others?
  • Do you have any risk factors? (Click to view)
    Risk factors may include:
    ­    Hallucinations
    ­    Delusions
    ­    Paranoia
    ­    Family history of substance abuse/mental Illness
    ­    No support system
  • Do you have any involvement with the police or courts?
  • Do you have any medical problems?
  • Are you experiencing any physical or sexual abuse?
  • Do you believe you may have a substance abuse problem?
  • Have you had previous behavioral health counseling or treatment?

What should I bring to my first appointment?

Because we want your experience with AltaPointe to be the best and most beneficial, please complete the Pre-Intake form and bring it with you. You also may be asked to provide or bring the following documents to your appointment:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of residency
  • Medications and medication list
  • Court papers or power of attorney document, if needed
  • Your photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or other government issued ID)
  • Your Insurance Card(s)
  • Your copay and/or deductible amount in full
  • Pre-Intake Form (please complete and bring with you to your first appointment)

CarePointe FAQsTop

What can I expect when I call?

Our CarePointe specialists will conduct an assessment over the phone to determine how they can help you. If after answering a number of questions it is determined that you, your loved one or friend would benefit from another provider or other community agency, AltaPointe will assist you by making the appropriate referral in the community.

New callers are asked to supply the following information:

  • Caller’s Name (and/or name of individual in need of services)
  • Date of Birth
  • Home Address
  • Insurance Information
  • Social Security Number

So that each caller seeking care receives the best possible service, the CarePointe specialist answering your call may ask the following questions:

  • Have you ever been a patient at AltaPointe?
  • Describe your current signs/symptoms.
  • Are you able to sleep? Is your sleep affected?
  • Have you had an increase or decrease in appetite?
  • Do you believe you are a danger to yourself?
  • Do you believe you are a danger to others?
  • Do you have any involvement with the police or courts?
  • Do you have any medical problems?
  • Are you experiencing any physical or sexual abuse?
  • Do you believe you may have a substance abuse problem?
  • Have you had previous behavioral health counseling or treatment?
  • Do you have any risk factors?
    • Risk factors may include:
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Paranoia
    • Family history of substance abuse/mental Illness
    • No support system

How do I make my first appointment?

Before you can make your first appointment, you will need to call CarePointe at (251) 450-2211 where you will receive an assessment and screening over the phone by one of our specialists. Subsequent appointments may be made at the AltaPointe location where service is received.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Because we want your experience with AltaPointe to be the best and most beneficial, you may be asked to provide or to bring with you to your appointment, the following documents, if applicable:

  • Proof of insurance
  • $25 fee, if you have no insurance
  • Proof of income (to receive consideration for financial assistance)
  • Proof of residency
  • Medications and medication list
  • Court papers or power of attorney document, if needed
  • Directions to AltaPointe location
  • Birth certificate (for children)

 

How does CarePointe respond to a crisis call?

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.
If you are in a psychiatric crisis situation that is not life-threatening, call CarePointe at (251) 450-2211.

CarePointe is AltaPointe’s crisis phone line where we help patients in urgent situations. Our caring specialists are trained in crisis assessment and de-escalation, and, when necessary, can dispatch a Crisis Response Team. These highly skilled professionals are adept at calmly, patiently guiding a caller through dire situations.

Our Crisis Response Team

Sometimes people need extra help. AltaPointe’s Crisis Response Teams can help you when you are experiencing a time of crisis. Our teams can provide additional services for you during those times by coming to you wherever you are in Mobile County. We want you to contact us if you are experiencing any new or increased signs or symptoms. It is important that you practice coping skills and learn how to avoid a crisis altogether.

What to do if you are in Crisis – Learn More

What are the signs that someone is in a mental health crisis?

There are a number of signs and symptoms that may point to an impending crisis for an individual living with a mental illness. The following list includes some behaviors that may indicate the need to ask for help when exhibited:

alcohol use
argumentative
being anxious
bizarre behavior
crying
danger to others
danger to self
depressed
drug use
erratic behavior
hallucinations
homicidal thoughts
impulsivity
irritability
isolating
mood swings
not eating
not sleeping
not taking medications
nuisance behavior
paranoid/fearful
restlessness
self-injury/harm
sleeping too much
suicidal thoughts
verbal aggression
wandering

Children’s OutpatientTop

What Are the Symptoms of Mental Illness in Children?

Children’s symptoms vary depending on the type of mental illness, but some of the general symptoms include:

  • Changes in school performance, such as poor grades despite good efforts
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical ailments
  • Defying authority, skipping school, stealing, or damaging property
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Long-lasting negative moods, often accompanied by poor appetite and thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger
  • Loss of interest in friends and activities they usually enjoy
  • Significant increase in time spent alone
  • Excessive worrying or anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares or night terrors
  • Persistent disobedience or aggressive behavior
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Hearing voices or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)

CrisisTop

Ways to Avoid a Crisis

It is important to know how to avoid a crisis whenever possible. The following list of actions can help you remain stable:

  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Tell the staff members of any symptoms or side effects
  • Keep all scheduled appointments
  • Identify and avoid lifestyle activities that may increase symptoms
  • Learn and use coping skills that work.
  • Go to the doctor when you are sick and for check-ups
  • Develop your spiritual life
  • Make and invest in friends or a support group
  • Develop a relapse-prevention plan with your treatment team

Practice Your Coping Skills

Call and talk to someone on your treatment team, such as a case manager, therapist or nurse. If your treatment team is unavailable, ask to speak with our Outpatient Liaison, who will contact a member of our team to assist you promptly.

If you call after business hours, contact us at (251) 450-2211. We have treatment teams working to assist you seven days a week. We will do whatever we can to work with you to resolve the crisis − talk with you on the phone, come to visit with you, schedule follow-up appointments, arrange for you to receive more services or whatever is appropriate for your situation.

Effective Coping Skills

  • Ask for help
  • Be patient and understanding of yourself and others
  • Clean or organize your house, apartment or room
  • Cook or bake
  • Breathe deeply
  • Do something just for fun
  • Draw, paint or color
  • Exercise, go for a walk
  • Find a quiet place
  • Journal or write letters
  • Listen to calming music
  • Meditate or pray
  • Participate in a hobby or activity
  • Use relaxation methods
  • Take a hot shower/soak in a relaxing bath
  • Talk to someone
  • Laugh!!! — Watch a funny movie or sitcom
  • Work a puzzle or a game

Delivery of CareTop

Clinical Model

Our clinical model of care helps individuals living with serious mental illness, emotional disturbance, intellectual disability, and substance abuse issues obtain the treatment and skills they require to succeed.

Staff Training

AltaPointe specially trains all direct-care staff in the prevention and management of aggressive behavior and crisis intervention. Staff members receive training and gain required experience to work with specialized populations.

Credentials

AltaPointe’s clinical staff members meet the appropriate Alabama State Department of Mental Health and other professional certification and licensure requirements. All medical staff members, including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, possess licensure and/or certification from appropriate state and/or professional agencies.

Treatment Teams

In addition to a psychiatrist and depending on the needs of the individual patient and the services offered by any particular inpatient or outpatient program, treatment teams may include social workers, licensed professional counselors, case managers, educational coordinators, discharge planners, recreational therapists and behavioral staff.

Electronic Medical Records Management

Simply put, EMR is a digital version of a patient’s chart containing all the current and relevant medical, psychiatric and medication history. With our secure EMR system, doctors can access and share treatment data at the click of a mouse. EMR improves the diagnosis, treatment and speed of care delivery. As a leader in healthcare innovation, AltaPointe has embraced the relatively new field of electronic medical records as a vehicle to improve patient care.

Five-Star Customer CARETop

What is AltaPraise?

AltaPointe values staff members who display exceptional customer service. It established the AltaPraise Rewards & Recognition program to demonstrate to these staff members how important they are to the success of this organization.

What information is required on the AltaPraise?

An “AltaPraise” should include details of specific and exceptional customer service performed by a particular staff member or group. This service should exceed the expectations set forth in the 5SCC Standards of CARE. Only completed AltaPraise cards/forms can be accepted.

The AltaPraise should describe how the AltaPointe staff member or group demonstrated at least one of the 5SCC Standard of CARE attributes that include being compassionate, accountable, respectful and encouraging. The Office of Public Relations processes each AltaPraise and makes sure the staff member or group being praised receives their AltaPraise.

Supervisors are expected to recognize AltaPraise recipients in front of their peers when they receive an AltaPraise. Recipients also are acknowledged in AltaNews, AltaPointe’s employee newsletter, and on AltaLink, our intranet. In 2010, AltaPointe began a tradition. Each year, the Five -Star Committee and the administration review all of the previous year’s AltaPraise submissions to select employees that have shown exceptional service. At the Annual Meeting, those chosen employees receive special recognition as Stars of the Year with one being named Shining Star of the Year. That tradition continues each winter.

How can I submit an AltaPraise?

Submitting an AltaPraise is easy. The two most convenient ways to submit an AltaPraise are via a handwritten card or an online submission form. Cards and collection boxes are located at the main offices of AltaPointe. To submit an AltaPraise online click on the submit button above. A completed card, or electronic form, should include a detailed description of an AltaPointe employee’s exceptional customer service performance.

Who may submit an AltaPraise?

AltaPraise, which means “highest praise,” encourages patients, family members, co-workers and all other customers to recognize an AltaPointe staff member or group for exceptional customer service by submitting an AltaPraise. Anyone may submit an AltaPraise.

MHFA FAQsTop

What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it does build mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

How many days does it take to complete the Mental Health First Aid program?

The Mental Health First Aid program runs 8 hours and may be offered in a variety of formats. Most often, it is conducted as a one-day seminar or two half-day sessions.

What do Mental Health First Aid training participants learn?

Just as CPR training helps a layperson with no clinical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives. Mental Health First Aiders learn a single 5-step strategy that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual in crisis, and identifying appropriate professional help and other supports. Participants are also introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems, engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families; and learn about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.

Where did Mental Health First Aid start?

Mental Health First Aid was created in Australia in 2001 by Professor Tony Jorm, a respected mental health literacy professor, and Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education. The program is auspiced at the ORYGEN Research Center at the University of Melbourne, Australia. (www.mhfa.com.au)

Who should take a Mental Health First Aid course?

Mental Health First Aid is intended for a variety of audiences, such as:

  • friends and family of individuals with mental illness
  • mental health and social service professional
  • primary care professionals
  • school and college leadership, educators, personnel
  • employers and business leaders
  • faith communities
  • school and college leadership, educators, personnel
  • professionals such as police officers
  • human resource directors
  • nursing home staff members, and
  • members of the public

The training venues will also vary as Mental Health First Aid program sites reach out to Chambers of Commerce, professional associations, hospitals, nursing homes, Rotary Clubs, parent organizations, social clubs and other groups who make up the fabric of a community. The core program is tailored for response to the general adult population.

Is there evidence to support the effectiveness of the program?

Yes, in fact, the strong evidence base is the very reason the National Council selected this particular program. Five published studies in Australia show that the program saves lives, improves the mental health of the individual administering care and the one receiving it, expands knowledge of mental illnesses and their treatments, increases the services provided and reduces overall stigma by improving mental health literacy. One trial of 301 randomized participants found that those who trained in Mental Health First Aid have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, and decreased stigmatizing attitudes. Unexpectedly, the study also found that Mental Health First Aid improved the mental health of the participants themselves. For further evidence supporting the implementation of Mental Health First Aid, please see the Evaluation section of the Australian Mental Health First Aid website: http://www.mhfa.com.au/evaluation.shtml

Have consumers of mental health or addictions services contributed to the development of Mental Health First Aid?

Yes. In fact, one of the original founders of the program in Australia is a consumer. Here in the United States, the National Council continually consults with mental health consumers to ensure the program content accurately reflects consumer experiences and perspectives. Consumers have maintained an active voice in focus groups, aided development of the training manual, and offered invaluable feedback on the program content itself. Additionally, a number of our certified instructors are mental health consumers themselves.

Has Mental Health First Aid been replicated in other countries?

Yes. To date, it has been replicated in Cambodia, Canada, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Wales in addition to the United States.

What is different about Youth MHFA?

Youth Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents and the importance of early intervention. The ultimate goal is to teaching individuals how to help a youth in crisis. Mental Health First Aid USA worked with experts at the National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health at the Georgetown University for Child and Human Development to develop the training.

What will Youth MHFA participants learn?

The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance abuse disorder. Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor do they learn how to provide any therapy or counseling. Rather, participants learn a core, five-step action plan to support an adolescent in crisis. The action plan includes the following steps:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Who should take the Youth MHFA course?

The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents, such as, teachers, coaches, mentors, and juvenile justice professionals. In addition, the course may also be appropriate for older adolescents age 16 and older who may be able to encourage youth peer-to-peer interaction.

IMPORTANT: Youth Mental Health First Aid is not specifically designed for parents of youth with mental health challenges. Although parents and families may find the course content useful, the course provides a basic level of information and guidance, rather than more in-depth information on navigating the healthcare system, which parents may wish to explore.

How do I find a Mental Health First Aid course near me?

Search our database for up and coming courses near you here.

How can I learn more about Mental Health First Aid?

AltaPointe schedules training sessions daily. To learn how to participate in Mental Health First Aid training in Mobile, call (251) 450-4340.

Most Treated Disorders-AdultsTop

Anxiety Disorder

Everyone knows what it’s like to feel anxious, the “butterflies” in your stomach before that first date, the “jitters” before giving a speech, the sweaty palms or racing heartbeat that often accompany challenging or dangerous situations. These feelings are normal.
But what if you were to find yourself feeling anxious most of the time instead of just under specific circumstances? What if you couldn’t even find a particular reason for feeling this way? What if you found yourself avoiding certain everyday routines or activities altogether in an effort to curb the stressful feelings they cause? What if you simply were to become “paralyzed” by your own nervousness? This is what life is often like for those suffering from one of the group of biologically based mental illnesses known as anxiety disorders.

The different types of anxiety disorders are:

Panic Disorder

Those suffering from panic disorder experience reoccurring and unexpected panic attacks-instances of extreme fear or discomfort that start abruptly and build to a rapid peak, usually within ten minutes. Panic attacks are characterized by such physical symptoms as heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, the sensation of choking, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, disorientation, fear of losing control or dying, numbness, chills, and hot flushes. Additionally, panic attacks are usually accompanied by a sense of looming danger and the strong desire to escape. Attacks can be brought on by specific triggers or can occur “out of the blue.” The frequency of attacks tends to vary according to the individual.
To be diagnosed with panic disorder, one’s panic attacks must have been followed by at least one month of steady worry about having more attacks, concern about why the attacks have happened and what they mean (fears of having a serious physical illness or “losing one’s mind” are common), or a significant change in behavior brought about by the attacks (many feel the need to avoid certain situations or remove themselves from particular environments).

Panic disorder is diagnosed more often in women than in men. Although the age of onset varies considerably, it is most commonly experienced for the first time between late adolescence and the mid-30’s. Up to one-half of those diagnosed with panic disorder also have agoraphobia.

Phobias

Defined as exaggerated, involuntary, and irrational fears of particular situations or things, phobias are generally divided into three separate types.
Specific (or simple) phobia-this type of phobia is brought about by a specific object or situation such as flying, heights, needles, or snakes. Specific phobias are generally more common in women than in men and usually first appear during childhood.
Social phobia (social anxiety disorder)-limited specifically to social situations, this particular phobia is typified by extreme fear of meeting new people and of being embarrassed, humiliated, or judged by others. Social phobia appears to be diagnosed equally among the sexes. Usually first appearing in mid-teens, social phobia sometimes arises from a history of childhood shyness.
A diagnosis of specific or social phobia requires that exposure to the feared object or situation induces anxiety (often in the form of panic attacks), that the individual experiencing the phobia recognizes the irrational nature of their fear, and that the anxiety caused by the phobia become disruptive to the individual’s lifestyle.

Agoraphobia-those with agoraphobia have an intense fear of being trapped in particular places or situations or of not being able to find help if they experience anxiety or a panic attack. Fears of those with this type of phobia often center around being alone in an open area or being in a large crowd. Often, those with agoraphobia avoid such situations altogether; being subjected to such situations causes notable anxiety or panic.
It is important to remember that diagnosed phobias cause severe impairment-everyone has certain fears and experiences times of shyness and anxiety.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistently intrusive and inappropriate thoughts, impulses, or images that run through one’s mind (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors that one feels they must do (compulsions). Common obsessions include fear of contamination, fixation or lucky or unlucky numbers, fear of danger to oneself or others, need for order or exactness, and excessive doubt. The most common compulsions performed in response to these obsessions include ritualistic hand washing, counting, checking, hoarding, and arranging.

Although most people experience such thoughts and behaviors at some times, OCD is considered to occur when these obsessions and compulsions are experienced for more than an hour each day in a way that interferes with one’s life or causes great anxiety.

Equally common in males and females, OCD often appears earlier in males. Generally, the disorder first begins in adolescence or early adulthood, although it may start in childhood.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Personally experiencing or witnessing a violent or tragic event that resulted in feelings of intense fear, helplessness, or horror can sometimes cause PTSD. Events that often lead to the development of this anxiety disorder include rape, war, natural disasters, abuse, and serious accidents. While it is common to experience a brief state of anxiety or depression after such occurrences, those with PTSD continually re-experience the traumatic event through ways such as nightmares, hallucinations, or flashbacks; avoid all things associated with the event (often displaying an accompanying sense of detachment); and exhibit increased arousal (e.g. difficulty sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating, extreme alertness, jumpiness).
Those diagnosed with PTSD experience symptoms for longer than one month and are unable to function as they did before the event. PTSD usually appears within three months of the traumatic experience, but in some circumstances can surface months or even years later. PTSD can occur at any age.

Similar to PTSD is an anxiety disorder known as acute stress disorder. Also in response to a traumatic event, acute stress disorder involves symptoms of re-experience, avoidance, and increased arousal as well. The main difference between the two disorders is twofold. First of all, acute stress disorder features a greater element of dissociation-those with the disorder experience detachment, a sense of withdrawal from reality, or even sometimes amnesia. The other major distinction between PTSD and acute stress disorder is in the length of time the symptoms are experienced. Acute stress disorder is only diagnosed if the disturbance occurs within four weeks of the traumatic event and lasts for a minimum of two days and a maximum of four weeks. What is first sometimes thought to be acute stress disorder is often eventually diagnosed as PTSD.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

Individuals with GAD experience excessive anxiety and worry about several everyday events or activities. Furthermore, the anxiety in those with GAD is difficult to control and causes notable complications in daily work and social settings. Physical symptoms of the disorder include edginess, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. To be diagnosed with GAD, one must experience this excessive anxiety for the majority of days during a period of six months or longer.

Most of those with GAD claim to have felt anxious for their entire lives and the disorder is first seen in childhood or adolescence. However, adult onset of the disorder is not uncommon.

Other anxiety disorders

Certain persons can experience anxiety in response to a general medical condition or from substance abuse. Others exhibit certain signs of particular anxiety disorders without meeting all the criteria for an official diagnosis.

How common are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States. These serious brain disorders are estimated to affect more than 20 million Americans (approximately one in nine) every year

Are anxiety disorders associated with other disorders?

Most definitely, it is quite common for one anxiety disorder to coexist with another or several others. Furthermore, those with anxiety disorders frequently also suffer from depression, substance-related disorders, and/or eating disorders. In fact, it is estimated that over half of those diagnosed with panic disorder or OCD have depression too.

What causes anxiety disorders?

Several factors seem to contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder. Much new research suggests that these disorders both run in families and are the result of one’s brain chemistry. Certain life experiences and one’s general personality are also thought to influence the likelihood of having an anxiety disorder.

How can anxiety disorders be treated?

Effective treatments are available for anxiety disorders. While the symptoms of the various anxiety disorders do differ, both medication and talk therapy have proven helpful in alleviating many of the problems of those faced with each of these illnesses.

The most common medications used to treat anxiety disorders are antidepressants and benzodiazepines. There are a variety of drugs of both types that have proven quite helpful. So, if a particular medication does not seem to work, others are available. And, many new drugs are on the horizon.
The forms of talk therapy most often effective in treating anxiety disorders are behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy involves relaxation techniques and gradual exposure to the thing or situation that causes the anxiety in an attempt to reduce symptoms.

Bi-Polar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression is a type of mental illness that involves a disorder of affect or mood. The person’s mood usually swings between overly “high” or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.

The high (manic) mood associated with manic-depression is sometimes a pleasurable, euphoric and productive state but can involve potentially dangerous lapses of judgment, impulsive and potentially ruinous behavior, and, in the most severe forms, can involve extreme agitation and loss of reason (psychosis). The depressed phase is similar to, and can be confused with, major depression, and involves feelings of sadness, hopelessness and helplessness.

Mental health specialists refer to bipolar disorder by type: Type I bipolar disorder involves extreme upswings in mood (mania) coupled with downward spirals. In Type II, the upward swings are more mild (hypomania), but the frequency and intensity of the depressive phase is often severe. Since the elevated mood states of Type II are relatively mild, they are often missed and the bipolar nature of the illness goes undiagnosed.

Consumers affected by Bipolar Disorder

Manic-depression affects more than 2% of the general population over a lifetime. Unfortunately, due to the stigma surrounding the illness, misdiagnosis, and the propensity of those with manic-depression to deny that anything is wrong, only a fraction of these people ever receive treatment. Although the illness can occur at any age, fully half of cases begin before age 20. The disorder occurs about equally in men and women, and, because it tends to run in families, there appears to be a strong genetic link. In addition, this illness can have profound effects on friends and family members.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities
  • Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Inability to sleep or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of Mania

  • Extreme irritability and distractibility
  • Excessive “high” or euphoric feelings
  • Increased energy, activity, restlessness
  • Racing thoughts, rapid speech
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Reckless behavior such as spending sprees
  • Rash business decisions, or erratic driving
  • In severe cases, hallucinations and loss of reason

Treatment options

Medication: Varying medicines are effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Several types of antidepressants can help relieve the depressive phase of the illness, including the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are often combined with a mood-stabilizer such as lithium. SSRIs have proven to be effective, safe, and have relatively minor adverse effects. Lithium salts have been used for many years to stabilize mood swings and remain an important part of manic-depressive treatment. In addition, anticonvulsants, medicines initially used for treating epileptic consumers, have recently proven very effective in treating mania. In acute mania, doctors may also prescribe antipsychotics to help control hallucinations and restore rational thinking. Long-term stability can be enhanced with lithium, and other alternatives are under investigation.

Psychotherapy: Talking therapy can be an important part of treatment for consumers, as well as for their friends and family members. Talking therapy can help eliminate behaviors, thought patterns, problems with current relationships or difficulties in managing the illness that may be caused by or contribute to the disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Symptoms of BPD

  • Mood swings
  • Periods of intense depression, irritability, and/or anxiety lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Inappropriate, intense or uncontrolled anger
  • Impulsiveness in spending, sex, substance use, shoplifting, reckless driving, or binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal threats or self-injurious behavior
  • Unstable, intense personal relationships
  • Extreme black-and-white views of people and experiences, sometimes alternating between “all good” idealization and “all bad” devaluation
  • Persistent uncertainly about self-image, long-term goals, friendships and values
  • Chronic boredom or feelings of emptiness
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

Treatment for BPD

Medication

  • Reduces anxiety, depression and impulsivity
  • Helps one deal with harmful patterns of thinking and interacting
  • Fails to correct ingrained character difficulties
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Neuroleptics

Psychotherapy

Short-term hospitalization when necessary during times of extreme stress, impulsivity or substance abuse

  • Generally difficult and long term
  • BPD symptoms often interfere with therapy
  • Usually effective

What is BPD?

  • Fairly common biologically based disorder
  • Characterized by impulsivity and instability in mood, self-image and personal relationships
  • Diagnosed more often in females than in males

Causes of BPD

  • Unclear, but psychological and biological factors may be involved
  • Originally thought to border on schizophrenia
  • Related to serious depressive illness
  • Associated with neurological and attention deficit disorders
  • Difficulties in psychological development during childhood due to such things as abuse or neglect may create identity and personality problems
  • More research is needed

Simultaneously present disorders

  • Serious depressive illness, including bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Sleep disorder

Depression

Depression has a variety of symptoms, but the most common is a deep feeling of sadness. People with depression may feel tired, listless, hopeless, helpless, and generally overwhelmed by life. Simple pleasures are no longer enjoyed, and their world can appear dark and uncontrollable. Emotional and physical withdrawal is a common response of depressed people.

Depression can strike at any time, but most often appears for the first time during the prime of life, from ages 24 to 44. One in four women and one in 10 men will confront depression at some point in their lives.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression is diagnosed if a person experiences 1) persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety or 2) loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities in addition to five or more of the following symptoms for at least 2 consecutive weeks:

  • Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains not related to dieting
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts of suicide

Depression is diagnosed only if the above symptoms are not due to other conditions (e.g. neurological or hormonal problems) or illnesses (e.g., cancer, heart attack) and are not the unexpected side effects of medications or substance abuse.

Treatment of Depression

Unfortunately, depression cannot be controlled for any length of time simply through exercise, through changes in diet, or by taking a vacation. But it is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond well to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.

Before a specific treatment is recommended, a psychiatrist will conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation, consisting of an interview and physical examination. Its purpose is to reveal specific symptoms, medical and family history, cultural setting, and environmental causes of stress to arrive at a proper diagnosis and to determine the best treatment.

Medication

Antidepressants may be prescribed to correct imbalances in the levels of chemicals in the brain. These medications are not sedatives, “uppers,” or tranquilizers; they are not habit-forming; and they generally have no stimulating effect on people not experiencing depression.
Antidepressants usually take full effect within 3-6 weeks after therapy has begun. If little or no improvement is noted after 6-8 weeks, the psychiatrist will alter the dose of the medication or will add or substitute another antidepressant. Psychiatrists usually recommend that consumers continue to take medication for 5 or more months after symptoms have improved.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” may be used either alone for treatment of mild depression or in combination with antidepressant medications for moderate to severe depression.

Psychotherapy can involve only the individual consumer or include others. Family or couples therapy helps to address specific issues that can arise within these close relationships. Group therapy involves people with similar illnesses. Depending on the severity of the depression, treatment can take a few weeks or substantially longer. However, in many cases, significant improvement can be made in 10-15 sessions.

Depression is never normal and always produces needless suffering. With proper diagnosis and treatment, depression can be overcome in the vast majority of people.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, a disease of the brain, is one of the most disabling and emotionally devastating illnesses known to man. But, because it has been misunderstood for so long, it has received relatively little attention and its victims have been undeservingly stigmatized. Schizophrenia is not a split personality, which is a rare and very different disorder.
Like cancer and diabetes, schizophrenia has a biological basis; it is not caused by bad parenting or personal weakness. Nor are individuals being treated for schizophrenia more prone to violence than the public, despite media focus on exceptions.
Schizophrenia is, in fact, a relatively common disease, with an estimated one percent of the U. S. population being diagnosed with it over the course of their lives. While there is no known cure for schizophrenia, it is a very treatable disease. Most of those afflicted by schizophrenia respond to drug therapy, and many are able to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

Symptoms

Schizophrenia is characterized by a constellation of distinctive and predictable symptoms. The symptoms that are most commonly associated with the disease are called positive symptoms that denote the presence of grossly abnormal behavior. These include thought disorder, delusions, and hallucinations.
Thought disorder is the diminished ability to think clearly and logically. Often it is manifested by disconnected and nonsensical language that renders the person with schizophrenia incapable of participating in conversation, contributing to his alienation from his family, friends, and society.
Delusions are common among individuals with schizophrenia. An affected person may believe that he is being conspired against (called “paranoid delusion”). “Broadcasting” describes a type of delusion in which the individual with this illness believes that others can hear his thoughts.
Hallucinations can be heard, seen, or even felt; most often, they take the form of voices heard only by the afflicted person. Such voices may describe the person’s actions, warn him of danger or tell him what to do. At times, the individual may hear several voices carrying on a conversation.
The deficit or negative symptoms that represent the absence of normal behavior are less obvious than the “positive symptoms,” but equally serious. These include flat or blunted affect (i.e. lack of emotional expression), apathy, and social withdrawal.

Who gets it?

While schizophrenia can affect anyone at any point in life, it is somewhat more common in those persons who are genetically predisposed to the disease. The first psychotic episode generally occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Studies have shown that some individuals with schizophrenia recover completely, and many others improve to the point where they can live independently, often with the maintenance of drug therapy. Fortunately, this accounts for the majority of cases.

However, approximately 15 percent of people with schizophrenia respond only moderately to medication and require support throughout their lives, while another 15 percent simply do not respond to existing treatment. New therapies may offer hope for the treatment of these most seriously affected sufferers.

How is it treated?

Hospitalization is often necessary in cases of acute schizophrenia. This ensures the safety of the affected person. Once the most troubling symptoms are controlled by medication, the person often does not require hospitalization.
Depending on the seriousness of the disease, the person may utilize day programs, rehabilitation facilities, and be treated in an outpatient setting. This allows the psychiatrist to adjust medication dosages as necessary over the course of the disease. The person may also need assistance in readjusting to society once his or her symptoms are controlled.
Supportive counseling or psychotherapy may be appropriate for these individuals as a source of friendship, encouragement, and practical advice during this process. Relatives and friends also can assist in rebuilding the person’s social skills. Such support is very important.

Antipsychotic Medications

Antipsychotic drugs are used in the treatment of schizophrenia. These medications help relieve the delusions, hallucinations, and thinking problems associated with this devastating disorder. These drugs appear to work by correcting an imbalance in the chemicals that help brain cells communicate with each other. As with drug treatments for other physical illnesses, many patients with severe mental illnesses may need to try several different antipsychotic medications before they find the one, or the combination of medications, that works best for them.

Possible Antipsychotic Medication Side Effects:

As a group, antipsychotic drugs are safe, and serious side effects are relatively rate. Some people may experience side effects that are inconvenient or unpleasant, but not serious.

Most common side effects: dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, and drowsiness.

Less common side effects: decreased sexual desire, menstrual changes, and stiff muscles on one side of the neck and jaw.

More serious side effects include: restlessness, muscle stiffness, slurred speech, tremors of the hands or feet, and agranulocytosis, which suppresses the production of white blood cells (when taking clozapine) and requires monitoring.

Tardive Dyskinesia is the most unpleasant and serious side effect of antipsychotic drugs causing involuntary facial movements and sometimes jerking or twisting movements of other parts of the body. This condition usually develops in older patients, affecting 15 percent to 20 percent of those who have taken older antipsychotic drugs for years.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Addiction is a serious illness. Health, finances, relationships, careers—all can be ruined. The abuse of drugs and alcohol is by far the leading cause of preventable illnesses and premature death in our society. The importance of substance abuse treatment cannot be overstated, and fortunately many effective treatments are available. The road to recovery, however, begins with recognition.

Consequences of use

Alcohol

People often drink alcohol during social occasions; it tends to loosen inhibitions. Unfortunately, the recklessness often resulting from excessive drinking is a leading cause of serious injuries and accidental deaths. In addition, alcohol is the most common cause of preventable birth defects, including fetal alcohol syndrome. Of course, excessive drinking can also lead to alcoholism; an illness that tends to run in families and is often associated with depression. Alcoholism can have devastating effects on health, including serious liver damage, greater risk of heart disease, impotence, infertility, and premature aging.

Marijuana

The most widespread and frequently used illicit drug is marijuana. It is associated with the following consequences:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Difficulty with concentrating and information processing
  • Lapses in judgment
  • Problems with perception and motor skills

 

In addition, years of marijuana use can lead to a loss of ambition and an inability to carry out long-term plans or to function effectively.

Stimulants

Stimulants (for example, cocaine, “crack,” amphetamines) give a temporary illusion of enhanced power and energy. As the initial elevation of mood fades, however, a depression emerges. Stimulant abuse can lead to serious medical problems.

  • Heart attacks—even in young people with healthy hearts
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Violent, erratic, anxious, or paranoid behavior

 

Cocaine use during pregnancy may result in miscarriages, stillbirths, or low-birth-weight babies who may be physically dependent on the drug and later may develop behavioral or learning difficulties. Excessive crack use can lead to a permanent vegetative, or zombie-like, state. Long-term amphetamine abuse can result in psychotic effects, such as paranoid delusions and hallucinations.

Heroin

Heroin, which can be smoked, eaten, sniffed, or injected, produces an intense—but fleeting—feeling of pleasure. Serious withdrawal symptoms begin, however, after 4 to 6 hours:

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle pains
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

 

Heroin use during pregnancy may result in miscarriages, stillbirths, or premature deliveries of babies born physically dependent on the drug. Those who inject heroin are introducing unsterile substances into their bloodstream, which can result in severe damage to the heart, lungs, and brain. In addition, sharing needles is one of the fastest ways to spread diseases; it is currently the leading cause of all new HIV and hepatitis B cases.

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are drugs such as LDS (“acid”) or the new “designer” drugs (for example, “ecstasy”) that are taken orally and cause hallucinations and feelings of euphoria. Dangers from LDS include stressful “flashbacks”—re-experiencing the hallucinations despite not having taken the drug again, sometimes even years later. Excessive use of ecstasy, combined with strenuous physical activity, can lead to death from dehydration or an exceptionally high fever.

Inhalants

Inhalants are breathable chemicals—for example, glue, paint thinner, or lighter fluid. They are commonly abused by teenagers because they are easy to obtain and because they produce mind-altering effects when “sniffed” or “huffed.” These chemicals reach the lungs and bloodstream very quickly and can be deadly. High concentrations of inhalant fumes can cause heart failure or suffocation. Long-term abuse of inhalants can cause permanent damage to the nervous system.

Sedatives

Sedatives are highly effective medications prescribed by physicians to relieve anxiety and to promote sleep. Unfortunately, harmful effects can occur when they are taken in excess of the prescribed dose or without a physician’s supervision, such as when they are obtained illegally. Combining sedatives with alcohol or other drugs greatly increases the likelihood of death by overdose. Women who abuse sedatives during pregnancy may deliver babies with birth defects (for example, cleft palate) who may also be physically dependent on the drugs.

Nicotine

The U. S. Surgeon General has confirmed that nicotine in tobacco products has additive properties similar in severity to those of heroin. Quitting is difficult because of the unpleasantness of withdrawal, which involved feelings of irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. However, continued smoking may lead to far more dire circumstances:

  • Lung cancer
  • Heat attacks
  • Emphysema
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers

Treatment

The first step on the road to recovery is recognition of the problem, but often this process is complicated by a lack of understanding about substance abuse and addiction or, worse, denial. In these cases, what often prompts treatment are interventions by concerned friends and family. Many health centers and other institutions offer screenings free of charge for various disorders throughout the year. For example, screening tests for alcohol abuse are usually offered in early April.
Because substance abuse affects many aspects of a person’s life, multiple forms of treatment are often required. For most, a combination of medication and individual or group therapy is most effective. Medications are used to control the drug cravings and relieve the severe symptoms of withdrawal. Therapy can help addicted individuals understand their behavior and motivations, develop higher self-esteem, and cope with stress. Other treatment methods that may be used as part of the rehabilitation process include the following:

  • Hospitalization
  • Therapeutic communities—highly controlled, drug-free environments
  • Outpatient programs, including methadone maintenance for heroin addiction

 

Finally, in addition to treatment, self-help groups for substance-abusing individuals (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) as well as their family members (Al-Anon or Nara-Anon Family Groups) are useful in providing support and reinforcing messages learned in treatment. These organizations can be found on the Internet of in your local telephone directory.

 

Most Treated Disorders-ChildrenTop

Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment Disorder is defined as an emotional behavioral reaction to an identifiable stressful event or change in a person’s life. The event or change is considered to be maladaptive or somehow not an expected healthy response to the event or change. Symptoms generally lessen as the stress diminishes or as the person adapts to the stress. Approximately 5 percent to 20 percent of the individuals in outpatient mental health treatment have a principal diagnosis of adjustment disorder.

Effective treatments for adjustment disorders include psychotherapy, family therapy, and possible medication if symptoms are severe.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior. Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by a refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight. Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, and other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise. In both disorders, individuals may have a disturbance in the perception of body shape, image or weight.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders cause individuals to feel excessively frightened, distressed and uneasy during situations in which most others would not experience these symptoms. Left untreated, these disorders can dramatically reduce productivity and significantly diminish an individual’s quality of life. Anxiety disorders in children can lead to poor school attendance, low self-esteem, deficient interpersonal skills, alcohol abuse, and adjustment difficulty.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America. They affect as many as one in 10 young people. Often these disorders are difficult to recognize. And, many individuals that suffer from them are either too ashamed to seek help, or they fail to realize that these disorders can be treated effectively.

The most common anxiety disorders include:

Panic Disorder

Characterized by panic attacks. This disorder results in sudden feelings of terror that strike repeatedly and without warning. Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying. Children and adolescents with this disorder may experience unrealistic worry, self-consciousness, and tension.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Characterized by repeated, intrusive and unwanted thoughts or obsessions and/or rituals that seem impossible to control. Adolescents may be aware that their symptoms don’t make sense and are excessive, but younger children may be distressed only when they are prevented from carrying out their compulsive habits. Compulsive behaviors often include counting, arranging and rearranging objects, and excessive hand washing.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Persistent symptoms of this disorder occur after experiencing a trauma such as abuse, natural disasters orextreme violence. Symptoms include nightmares; flashbacks; the numbing of emotions; depression; feeling angry, irritable and distracted; and being easily startled.

Phobias

Consist of a disabling and irrational fear of something that actually poses little or no danger. The fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause extreme feelings of terror, dread and panic, which can substantially restrict one’s life. “Specific” phobias center on particular objects (e.g. animals) or situations (e.g. heights or enclosed places). Common symptoms for children and adolescents with “social” phobias are hypersensitive to criticism, difficulty being assertive and low self-esteem.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Chronic, exaggerated worry about everyday, routine life events and activities that lasts at least six months

Children and adolescents with this disorder usually anticipate the worse and often complain of fatigue, tension, headaches, and nausea.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached

This disorder is evidenced by three or more of the following:

  • Recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
  • Persistent and excessive worry about losing or about possible harm to major attachment figures
  • Persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from major attachment figure (e.g. getting lost or kidnapped)
  • Persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings
  • Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home
  • Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation
  • Repeated complaints of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, or vomiting when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
  • The duration of the disturbance is at least four weeks
  • The onset is before the age of 18 years
  • The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
  • The disturbance does not occur excessively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder with Agoraphobia

Although studies suggest that children and adolescents are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if their caregivers have anxiety disorders, it has not been shown whether biology or environment plays the greater role in the development of these disorders. High levels of anxiety or excessive shyness in children aged six to eight years may be indicators or a developing anxiety disorder.
Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and elsewhere have recently found that some cases of OCD occur following infection or exposure to streptococcus bacteria. More research is being done to pinpoint who is at greatest risk, but this is another reason to treat strep throats seriously and promptly.

Effective treatments for anxiety disorders include medication, specific forms of psychotherapy also known as behavioral therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy, family therapy, or a combination of these. Cognitive-behavioral treatment involves the young person’s learning to deal with his or her fears by modifying the way he or she thinks and behaves by practicing new behaviors.

Ultimately, parents and caregivers should learn to be understanding and patient when dealing with children with anxiety disorders. Specific plans of care can often be developed and the child or adolescent should be involved in the decision-making process whenever possible.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is one of the most common behavioral disorders among children. Between 3 percent and 5 percent of all children may suffer from this condition. It is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyper activity and/or impulsivity that occurs in academic, occupational or social settings. It is best defined as a condition where an individual’s attention span is dramatically less than what is expected for an individual of that age.

Although ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, it is not a disorder limited to children and it often persists into adolescence and adulthood. Frequently, it is not diagnosed until later years.

According to the NIMH, ADHD is characterized by three major categories.

  • Inattention People who are inattentive have a hard time keeping their minds on any one thing and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. They may give effortless, automatic attention to activities and things they enjoy, but focusing deliberately on organizing and completing a task or learning something new is difficult.
  • Hyperactivity— People who are hyperactive, always seem to be moving. Hyperactive teens and adults may feel restless throughout the day whenever long periods of attention are required or they move from one activity to another all at once.
  • Impulsivity— People that are overly impulsive, seem unable to reduce their immediate reactions to a circumstance or be able to think completely through before acting on a situation.

What causes ADHD? ADHD is not caused by dysfunctional parenting, and those with ADHD do not merely lack intelligence or discipline. There are several potential causes but none proven. Since parental support seems to lesson the affects of ADHD, parental involvement is encouraged. Style of parenting does not seem to have an impact on the condition itself.

Strong scientific evidence supports the conclusion that ADHD us a biologically based disorder. Biological studies suggest that children with ADHD may have lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in critical regions of the brain, which may account for many of the signs and symptoms of ADHD. Brain imaging studies have shown that brain metabolism is lower in individuals with ADHD than in normal controls. More important, these studies show significantly lower metabolic activity in the regions of the brain that control attention, social judgment and movement. There is strong evidence that ADHD has a genetic basis in some cases. Scientific studies have not verified dietary factors as a main cause of ADHD. Environmental factors might have an influence on the development of ADHD. These include cigarette, alcohol or drug use during pregnancy. Each of these substances may damage the baby’s developing brain and may be responsible for some conditions related to ADHD. The most proven treatments are medication and behavioral therapy.

Medication Stimulants are the most widely used drugs for treating attention-deficient/hyperactivity disorder. Medications such as s Ritalin, Cylert, and Dexedrine have been successful in treating the symptoms associated with ADHD. However, there is a great deal of debate about the long-term effect of the medication. Every person reacts to the treatment differently, so it is important to work closely and communicate openly with the physician. Some common side effects of stimulant medications include weight loss, decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, and in children, a temporary slowness of growth. However, these reactions can often be controlled with dosage adjustments. Medication has proven effective in the short-term treatment of more than 76 percent of individuals, but specialists must monitored in this area (e.g. a child psychiatrist).

Treatment strategies such as rewarding positive behavior changes and communicating clear expectations of those with ADHD have also proven effective. Additionally, it is extremely important for family members and teachers or employers to remain patient and understanding.

Children with ADHD can also benefit from caregivers paying close attention to their progress, adapting classroom environments to accommodate their needs and using positive reinforcement. Formal educational testing and an evaluation for speech and language disorders should be preformed. Where appropriate, parents should work with the school for special classroom accommodations for the child.

Approximately 25 percent of children with ADHD (mostly younger children and boys) also experience anxiety and depression. At least 25 percent of children with ADHD suffer from some type of communication or learning disability. There is also a correlation with Tourette’s syndrome. Research is also beginning to show that ADHD-like symptoms are sometimes actually manifestations of childhood-onset bipolar disorder.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a behavior disorder, usually diagnosed in childhood, which is characterized by uncooperative, defiant, negativistic, irritable, and annoying behaviors towards parents, peers, teachers, and other authority figures. Children and adolescents with ODD are more distressing or irritable to others than they are distressed or troubled themselves. Almost 50 percent of all children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (especially boys) tend also to have ODD, characterized by negative, hostile, and defiant behaviors. ODD is reported to affect 2 percent to 16 percent of children and adolescents in the general population and is more common in boys than girls.

Clinically Significant Symptoms of ODD include at least four of the following:

  • Often loses temper
  • Often argues with adults
  • Often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests
  • Often deliberately annoys people
  • Often blames others for his/her mistakes or misbehavior
  • Is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • Is often angry or resentful
  • Is often spiteful or vindictive

The disturbances must cause significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning. Age of onset typically occurs before the age of 8 and not usually later than adolescence. The pattern of behavior must last for at least six months and not be associated in stages in which oppositional behavior does occur (Peak time is between 18 and 24 months of age or the “terrible twos”).
Treatment for ODD includes individual therapy with the child and counseling or training with the parents in child management skills.

 

Patient InformationTop

How do I pay for services?

AltaPointe accepts most major commercial insurance as well as All Kids, Medicaid and Medicare. We also provide services to people who are uninsured, depending on their symptoms and needs. For patients who meet the criteria, financial assistance and/or a reduced fee schedule may be available.

For first-time patients, our well-informed CarePointe specialists can help you navigate complicated insurance and reimbursement matters. CarePointe is your lifeline for help and information for new or returning AltaPointe patients, those with insurance and without, and individuals needing AltaPointe services or community resources. CarePointe is your first stop on the road to recovery. Call CarePointe at (251) 450-2211.

Billing Questions
The AltaPointe Finance & Accounting Office can assist you with your billing needs. In order to assist you, please click here to complete and submit a form with your questions and information to our business office. If you prefer to speak to someone in our business office, please contact us at (251) 450-5916.

What should I do if I am in a crisis?

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1. If you are in a psychiatric crisis situation that is not life-threatening, call CarePointe at (251) 450-2211.

What if I need directions to the office?

Patients visiting AltaPointe or one of its hospitals for the first time may need written directions to their appointment destination. We have provided a complete list of offices and hospitals with addresses, written driving directions and a map for the convenience of our patients and their caregivers or family members.

Corporate Offices
Hospitals
Outpatient

How do I make my first appointment?

Before you can make your first appointment, you will need to call CarePointe at (251) 450-2211 where you will receive an assessment and screening over the phone by one of our specialists. Subsequent appointments may be made at the AltaPointe location where service is received.

What should I bring to my appointment?

Because we want your experience with AltaPointe to be the best and most beneficial, you may be asked to provide or to bring with you to your appointment, the following documents, if applicable:

  • Proof of insurance
  • $25 fee, if you have no insurance
  • Proof of income (to receive consideration for financial assistance)
  • Proof of residency
  • Medications and medication list
  • Court papers or power of attorney document, if needed
  • Directions to AltaPointe location
  • Birth certificate (for children)

 

Patient Rights – AltaPointe Adult Outpatient, Inpatient & ResidentialTop

When you are a patient at AltaPointe you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect, dignity and privacy.
  • Be treated in a safe and humane place.
  • Know the facts about your care, which has been designed just for you.
  • Know the facts about your medicine.
  • Be told where to get help if you have pain or other medical problems.
  • Get help from others.
  • Give your written consent for treatment.

Facts about your care. You have the right to be told:

  • What your illness is and what the doctor thinks is the best way to treat it.
  • How long your treatment will last.
  • The cost of your treatment, what part your insurance will pay, and if there are any limits on your treatment.
  • The rules about behavior in the program.

Facts about your medicine. You have the right to:

  • Take medicine only if ordered by a doctor.
  • Be told about your medicine, including information about any side effects that you may expect and how the medicine will help you.
  • Refuse to take any medicine, unless your care and treatment has been ordered by the court.

Making decisions about your care. You have the right to:

Have a treatment plan set up for your needs and to have it reviewed on a regular basis.

  • Help plan your treatment and have your family participate, if you want.
  • Get your treatment in the place that is the least restrictive for you.
  • Refuse any treatment unless it has been ordered by a court.

 

Getting help from others. You have the right to:

Get a second opinion, at your expense.

  • File a complaint and get an answer to your complaint about services or treatment.
  • Talk to an attorney.
  • Have contact with the court system.
  • Talk to a pastor or minister and to worship in the faith of your choice.
  • Access protective services.
  • Pray, if you want to.
  • Get proper, healthy meals.
  • Have your personal belongings and clothing to wear.
  • Have visitors, to send or get mail and phone calls in private.
  • Not be put into isolation or restrained or put on drugs unless this is a part of your treatment.
  • Refuse to do any work that would financially benefit AltaPointe Health Systems.
  • Get a free public education if you are of school age.
  • See a doctor or dentist and get the health care you need (at your own expense).
  • Formulate or have your Advanced Directive honored.

You have duties too. You should:

Respect other people.

  •  Talk to our staff.
  • Not touch other people in the wrong way.
  • Not run away.
  • Not break things.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Join in activities.
  • Do your chores.
  • Not hurt other people or fight.

Contacts that can assist with questions about your rights

 

If you feel that any of your rights have been violated or if you want further information, you may contact the following:

Alabama Department of Mental Health Advocacy Office
(800) 367-0955

Alabama Department of Human Resources
(251) 450-1800

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
(800) 826-1675

AltaPointe Health Systems Consumer Needs Department
(251) 450-4303

You may contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring to report any concerns or register complaints about AltaPointe Health Systems either by calling (800) 994-6610 or e-mailing complaint@jointcommission.org.

You may also call Elder Care at Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery/Division of Health Care Facilities to report a complaint and/or to ask questions about your Advance Directive at (800) 356-9596, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Patient Rights – AltaPointe Adult Substance AbuseTop

When you are a patient at AltaPointe you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect, dignity and privacy.
  • Be treated in a safe and humane place.
  • Know the facts about your care, which has been designed just for you and is responsive to and respectful of your unique characteristics, needs and abilities.
  • Be told where to get help if you have pain or other medical problems.
  • Get help from others.
  • Be informed of all program rules and client responsibilities prior to initiation of care, and the consequences of non-compliance.
  • Provide input into the entity’s service delivery processes through client satisfaction surveys and other avenues provided by the governing body.
  • Receive services that are free of:

– Physical abuse
– Sexual abuse
– Harassment
– Physical punishment
– Psychological abuse, including humiliation
– Threats
– Exploitation
– Coercion
– Financial abuse

  • Report without fear of retribution, any instances of perceived abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  • Privacy, both inside and outside the program setting.
  • Be informed of any potential restriction of rights that may be imposed.
  • Be informed of the parameters of confidentiality.
  • Be informed of client rights at the time of admission, both verbally and in writing.
  • Be informed of the person who has primary responsibility for your care.

 

Before receiving services provided by AltaPointe, you have the right to:

  • Give your written consent for treatment.
  • Withhold consent for treatment.
  • Be provided a copy of these consents.

Facts about your care. You have the right to:

  • Be told what your illness is and what the doctor thinks is the best way to treat it.
  • Be told how long your treatment will last.
  • Be told the cost of your treatment, what part your insurance will pay and if there are any limits on your treatment.
  • To be informed of the nature of possible significant adverse effects of the recommended treatment, including any appropriate and available alternative treatments, services, and/or providers.

Facts about your medicine. You have the right to:

  • Take medicine only if ordered by a doctor.
  • Be told about your medicine, including information about any side effects you may expect and how the medicine will help you.
  • Be informed of any appropriate and available alternative treatments, services, and/or providers.
  • Refuse to take any medicine, unless your care and treatment has been ordered by the court.

Making decisions about your care. You have the right to:

  • Have a treatment plan set up for your needs and to have it reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Receive services based on your treatment plan and be provided with appropriate information to facilitate decision making regarding treatment.
  • Help plan your treatment and have your family participate if you want.
  • Express your preference of provider.
  • Refuse any treatment unless it has been ordered by a court.
  • The provision of care according to accepted clinical practice standards within the least restrictive and most accommodating environment possible.

Getting help from others. You have the right to:

  • Get a second opinion, at your expense.
  • Talk to an attorney.
  • Have contact with the court system.
  • Access protective services.
  • Pray, if you want to.
  • Not be put into isolation or restrained or put on drugs unless as a part of your treatment.
  • Refuse to do any work that would financially benefit AltaPointe Health Systems.
  • Formulate or have your Advanced Directive honored.
  • The availability of an adequate number of competent, qualified and experienced professional clinical staff to ensure appropriate implementation of the client’s service plan.

You have duties too. You should:

  • Respect other people.
  • Talk to our staff.
  • Not touch other people in the wrong way.
  • Not destroy AltaPointe property.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Join in activities.
  • Not hurt other people or fight.

Contacts that can assist with questions about your rights

If you feel that any of your rights have been violated or if you want further information, you may contact the following:

Alabama Department of Mental Health Advocacy Office
(800) 367-0955

Alabama Department of Human Resources
(251) 450-1800

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
(800) 826-1675

AltaPointe Health Systems Consumer Needs Department
(251) 450-4303

You may contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring to report any concerns or register complaints about AltaPointe Health Systems either by calling (800) 994-6610 or e-mailing complaint@jointcommission.org.

You may also call Elder Care at Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery/Division of Health Care Facilities to report a complaint and/or to ask questions about your Advance Directive at (800) 356-9596, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Patient Rights – AltaPointe Children’s Outpatient ServicesTop

When you are a patient at AltaPointe, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect.
  • Be treated in a safe place.
  • Know how we will help you.
  • Get help from others, like your priest, pastor, preacher, or rabbi.

Facts about your care. You have the right to:

  • Know why you are here and what the doctor thinks is the best way to help you.
  • Know how long you have to come here.
  • Not to be secluded or restrained unless a doctor says so.

About your medicine. You have the right to:

  • Take medicine only if the doctor says you should.
  • Know about your medicine and how it can make you feel better.
  • Not take the medicine unless a judge says you have to.

Making decisions about your care. You have the right to:

  • See your record.
  • Help plan your treatment.
  • Get your treatment in the place that least restricts you.
  • Not have any treatment unless the judge says you have to.

About your treatment. You have the right to:

  • Be safe from harm while you are here.
  • Have your record kept private unless there is an emergency.

You have duties too. You should:

  • Respect other people.
  • Talk to your staff.
  • Not touch other people in the wrong way.
  • Not run away.
  • Not break things.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Not hurt other people or fight.
  • Go to school.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Join in activities.
  • Do your chores.

What to do if you have a problem:

  • If you have a problem with something that happens to you while you are here, tell a grown up right away. Your parents can do this for you, too. Our Consumer Needs Specialist will listen to you and talk with you about the problem. She also may talk to your parents. It is her job to try to find a way to fix the problem. She will tell you about her ideas in about 10 days from the first time you meet her.
  • If you don’t like what she says or her ideas, you can ask the Consumer Needs Committee for help. This group of AltaPointe staff members and one patient will try to come up with other ideas. They will let you know their ideas in about 10 days from the time you meet them.
  • If you don’t like their ideas or what they say to you, you can ask our Chief Executive Officer or other designated administrator for help. You will hear what he thinks in about 30 days.

Contacts that can assist with questions about your rights

If you feel that any of your rights have been violated or if you want further information, you may contact the following:

Alabama Department of Mental Health Advocacy Office
(800) 367-0955

Alabama Department of Human Resources
(251) 450-1800

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
(800) 826-1675

AltaPointe Health Systems Consumer Needs Department
(251) 450-4303

You may contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring to report any concerns or register complaints about AltaPointe Health Systems either by calling (800) 994-6610 or e-mailing complaint@jointcommission.org.

 

Patient Rights – BayPointe Children’s HospitalTop

When you are a patient at BayPointe, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect.
  • Be treated in a safe place.
  • Know how we will help you.
  • Get help from others, like your priest, pastor, preacher, or rabbi.

Facts about your care. You have the right to:

  • Know why you are here and what the doctor thinks is the best way to help you.
  • Know how long you have to stay here.
  • Not be secluded or restrained unless a doctor says so.

About your medicine. You have the right to:

  • Take medicine only if the doctor says you should.
  • Know about your medicine and how it can make you feel better.
  • Not take the medicine unless a judge says you have to.

Making decisions about your care. You have the right to:

  • See your record.
  • Help plan your treatment.
  • Get your treatment in the place that least restricts you.
  • Not have any treatment unless the judge says you have to.

About your treatment. You have the right to:

  • Be safe from harm while you are here.
  • Have your record kept private unless there is an emergency.

If you are getting care in a residential setting, you also have the right to:

  • Get healthy meals.
  • Have your own things and your own clothes.
  • Not do any work that otherwise we would have to pay for.
  • Go to public school every day.
  • Pray if you want to. We cannot make you pray.
  • See a doctor or a dentist if you need to.
  • Have visitors, send mail, and make phone calls in private.

You have duties too. You should:

  • Respect other people.
  • Talk to your staff.
  • Not touch other people in the wrong way.
  • Not run away.
  • Not break things.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Not hurt other people or fight.
  • Go to school.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Join in activities.
  • Do your chores.

Remember, your rights cannot be taken away from you without a very good reason.

Contacts that can assist with questions about your rights

If you feel that any of your rights have been violated or if you want further information, you may contact the following:

Alabama Department of Mental Health Advocacy Office
(800) 367-0955

Alabama Department of Human Resources
(251) 450-1800

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
(800) 826-1675

AltaPointe Health Systems Consumer Needs Department
(251) 450-4303

You may contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring to report any concerns or register complaints about AltaPointe Health Systems either by calling (800) 994-6610 or e-mailing complaint@jointcommission.org.

 

Patient Rights – BayView Professional AssociatesTop

When you are a patient at AltaPointe you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect, dignity and privacy.
  • Be treated in a safe and humane place.
  • Know the facts about your care, which has been designed just for you.
  • Know the facts about your medicine.
  • Be told where to get help if you have pain or other medical problems.
  • Get help from others.
  • Give your written consent for treatment.

Facts about your care. You have the right to:

  • Be told what your illness is and what the doctor thinks is the best way to treat it.
  • Be told how long your treatment will last.
  • Be told the cost of your treatment and what part your insurance will pay, and if there are any limits on your treatment.
  • Be told the rules about behavior in the program.

Facts about your medicine. You have the right to:

  • Take medicine only if ordered by a doctor.
  • Be told about your medicine, including information about any side effects you may expect and how the medicine will help you.
  • Refuse to take any medicine, unless your care and treatment has been ordered by the court.

Making decisions about your care. You have the right to:

  • Have a treatment plan set up for your needs and to have it reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Help plan your treatment and have your family participate if you want.
  • Get your treatment in the place that is the least restrictive for you.
  • Refuse any treatment unless it has been ordered by a court.

 

Getting help from others. You have the right to:

  • Get a second opinion, at your expense.
  • File a complaint and get an answer to your complaint about services or treatment.
  • Talk to an attorney.
  • Have contact with the court system.
  • Talk to a pastor or minister and to worship in the faith of your choice.
  • Access protective services.
  • Pray if you want.
  • Get proper, healthy meals.
  • Have your personal belongings and clothing to wear.
  • Have visitors, to send or get mail and phone calls in private.
  • Not be put into isolation or restrained or put on drugs unless as a part of your treatment.
  • Refuse to do any work that would financially benefit AltaPointe Health Systems.
  • Get a free public education if you are of school age.
  • See a doctor or dentist and get the health care you need (at your own expense).
  • Formulate or have your Advanced Directive honored.

You have duties too. You should:

  • Respect other people.
  • Talk to our staff.
  • Not touch other people in the wrong way.
  • Not run away.
  • Not break things.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Join in activities.
  • Do your chores.
  • Not hurt other people or fight.

Contacts that can assist with questions about your rights

If you feel that any of your rights have been violated or if you want further information, you may contact the following:

Alabama Department of Mental Health Advocacy Office
(800) 367-0955

Alabama Department of Human Resources
(251) 450-1800

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
(800) 826-1675

AltaPointe Health Systems Consumer Needs Department
(251) 450-4303

You may contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring to report any concerns or register complaints about AltaPointe Health Systems either by calling (800) 994-6610 or e-mailing complaint@jointcommission.org.

You may also call Elder Care at Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery/Division of Health Care Facilities to report a complaint and/or to ask questions about your Advance Directive at (800) 356-9596, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Privacy PracticesTop

Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)

AL-501 CoC Public Notice

We collect personal information directly from you for reasons that are discussed in our privacy statement. We may be required to collect some personal information by law or by organizations that give us money to operate this program. Other personal information that we collect is important to run our programs, to improve services for homeless and/ or at-risk persons, and to better understand the needs of homeless and/ or at-risk persons. We only collect information that we consider to be appropriate. To read our full Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) privacy notice

The collection and use of all personal information is guided by strict standards of confidentiality. A copy of our Privacy Notice describing out privacy practice is available to all clients upon request.

 

 

Contacts that can assist with discrepancies or complaints

You may submit in writing a request for review of any discrepancy or complaint under HIPAA to any of the following:

Director, Office of Civil Rights

US Department of Health & Human Services
61 Forsyth St., SW – Suite 31370
Atlanta, GA 30323
(404) 562-7858 or (404) 562-7884

Consumer Needs Department

AltaPointe Health Systems
5750-A Southland Drive
Mobile, AL 36693
(251) 450-4303

Changes to our privacy practices

We reserve the right to change the terms of our practices and to make the new provisions effective for all individually identifiable health information (medical records) that we maintain. If we change our information practices, we will have the revised notice available in the therapist’s office as well as have a supply available in the lobby of the facility.

Examples of disclosures for treatment, payment and health operations

We will use your health information for treatment (for example):

Information obtained by a doctor, nurse or other mental health professional will be recorded in your record and used to determine the course of treatment that will work best for you. Any service provided to you will be documented in the record.

We will use your health information for payment (for example):

A bill may be sent to you or a third-party payer. The information on or accompanying the bill may include information that identifies you, as well as your diagnosis.

We will use your health information for regular health operations (for example):

Members of the medical staff, the risk or quality improvement teams may use information in your health record to assess the care and outcomes in your case and others like it.

Other ways we may or may not share your health information:

Business Associates − We provide some services through contracts with business associates. (Example: certain diagnostic tests).

Directory − We do not have a directory that provides any information concerning your treatment here.

Notification − We will not disclose any information to anyone about you without your written consent/authorization.

Communication with Family − Only with your written authorization/consent will we disclose to a family member, another relative, a close friend, or any other person that you identify, health information relevant to that person’s involvement in your care or payment related to your care.

Research − We may disclose information to researchers when their research has been approved by an institutional review board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to ensure the privacy of your information.

Funeral Directors − We may disclose health information to funeral directors consistent with applicable law to enable them to carry out their duties.

Marketing/Continuity of Care − We may contact you to provide appointment reminders or information about treatment alternatives that may be of interest to you.

Fund raising − We will not contact you concerning any fund-raising activities.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) − We may disclose to the FDA health information relative to adverse effects/events with respect to food, drugs, supplements, product or product defects, or postmarking surveillance information to enable product recalls, repairs, or replacements.

Workers Compensation − We may disclose information to the extent authorized by and to the extent necessary to comply with laws relating to workers compensation or other similar programs established by law.
Public Health − We may disclose your health information as required by law.

Correctional institution − If you are an inmate of a correctional institution, we may disclose to the institution health information necessary for your health and the health and safety of other individuals.

Law Enforcement − We may disclose your health information for law enforcement purposes as required by law or in response to a court order.

Health Oversight Agencies & Public Health Authorities − By Federal law, provisions your health information may be released provided that a work force member or business associate believes in good faith that we have engaged in unlawful conduct or have otherwise violated professional or clinical standards and are potentially endangering one or more consumers, workers or the public.

For more information or to report a problem

If you have questions and would like additional information, you may contact the Consumer Needs Specialist at (251) 450-4303.

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Needs Specialist at AltaPointe Health Systems or with the US Secretary of Health & Human Services. There will be no retaliation for filing a complaint.

Your written statement to AltaPointe Health Systems and/or the Office of Civil Rights must include the following:

  • Your name, address, telephone number, and your signature
  • How, why and when you believe you were discriminated against
  • Name and address of institution or agency you believe discriminated against you
  • Any other relevant information

 

Our responsibilities

AltaPointe Health Systems is required to:

  • Maintain the privacy of your health information.
  • Provide you with notice as to our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to information we collect and maintain about you.
  • Abide by the terms of this notice.
  • Notify you if we are unable to agree to a requested restriction.
  • Accommodate reasonable requests you may have to communicate health information by other means or at other locations.
  • Train our personnel concerning privacy and confidentiality; implement a sanction policy to discipline those who breach privacy or confidentiality of our policy.

We reserve the right to change our practices and to make the new provisions effective for all protected health information we maintain. Should our Information practices change; the revised notice will be available through your therapist and in the lobby of the facility.

We will not use or disclose your health information without your authorization, except as described in this notice.

Your health information rights

Although your medical record is the physical property of AltaPointe Health Systems, the information belongs to you. You have the right to:

  • Request in writing a restriction on certain uses and disclosures of your information as provided by 45 CFR 164.522.
  • Request in writing to obtain a paper copy of your health record as provided for in 45 CFR 164.524.
  • Request in writing to amend your health record as provided in 45 CFR 164.526.
  • Obtain a paper copy of the notice of information practices upon request.
  • Request in writing to obtain an accounting of disclosures of your health information as provided in 45 CFR 164.528.
  • Request in writing communication of your health information by alternative (other) means or at other locations.
  • Revoke in writing your authorization to use and disclose health information except to the extent that action has already been taken.

 

Confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse records

The confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse records maintained by this organization is protected by federal law and regulations. Generally, the program may not communicate to a person outside the program that you attend the program or disclose any information identifying you as an alcohol or drug abuser unless one of the following conditions is met:

  • You consent to it in writing.
  • The disclosure is allowed by a court order.
  • The disclosure is made to medical personnel in a medical emergency or to qualified personnel for program evaluation.

Violations of federal laws and regulations by a program are a crime. Suspected violations may be reported to the appropriate authorities in accordance with federal regulations.

Federal laws and regulations do not protect any information about a crime committed by you either at the program or against any person(s) who works for the program or about any threat to commit such a crime.

Federal laws and regulations do not protect any information about suspected child abuse or neglect from being reported under state law to appropriate state or local authorities.

AltaPointe safeguards Protected Health Information

AltaPointe has a legal duty to safeguard your Protected Health Information (PHI). This PHI includes information that can be used to identify you. It is information that we have created or reviewed about your past, present or future health conditions. It contains what healthcare we have provided to you or the payment history on healthcare related accounts. We must provide you with notice about our privacy practices and explain how, when and why we use and disclose your PHI.

We will not use or disclose your PHI without your authorization, except as described in this notice or otherwise required by law. We are legally required to follow the privacy practices that are described in this notice.