Rockledge Regional Medical Center has opened its Behavioral Health Services Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to help meet the needs of people in the community struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. The IOP is short-term, complementing the hospital’s 24-bed inpatient mental health facility and programs.
“This option allows mental health professionals in Brevard County to better care for patients,” said Jordan Brown, MD, a psychiatrist who works with the program. “IOP is a mix of group therapy, individual therapy and psychiatric evaluation, and medication management. We see patients four to five times per week for an extended period – usually six to 12 weeks – and then return them to their outpatient psychiatrists for continued care.”
Christine Richardson, the director of behavioral health services, said that the outpatient program is filling an important niche in the community. “We’re addressing a definite need as there aren’t many options such as this in the area,” Richardson said. “There are programs in Orlando, but that’s too far away for most patients to get the help they need.”
The IOP is voluntary and group-based, but individual treatment is available. Participants in the IOP must be 18 years or older.
For people being discharged from hospital care, the IOP can be helpful integrating them back into daily life, Richardson said. “It’s important for them when they come out of the hospital, because being hospitalized can often disrupt their lives,” she said. “If someone has a job, it has to be put on hold. This is less disruptive to home and work life as it can be scheduled around life priorities.”
Program participants can enter the IOP either following hospitalization or upon referral by a mental health professional. It’s a multidisciplinary approach, involving social workers as well as other mental health professionals, including psychiatrists.
Participants can get help coping with everyday stress and with the side effects of their medications. They also receive oversight to monitor the taking of medication, because patients often forego it once their symptoms abate, Richardson said.
In addition to working with the participant, the IOP can help educate the person’s loved ones. This is particularly helpful when addiction is an issue, Richardson said. “Oftentimes, family members may not understand,” she said. “We explain the cycle of addiction to them. It helps when people in the program have family support.”
For more information on the IOP, call 321-637-4701 or visit rockledgeregional.org.