Mental Health Local Advisory Council

Meetings are the 2nd Friday of every month from 12:00 to 2:00pm.

What is the Mental Health Local Advisory Council?

Since 1999, the Beaverhead County Mental Health Local Advisory Council (MHLAC), comprised predominately of consumers, has served to assess, plan, and strengthen behavioral health services for our community. These include both mental and addictive concerns. We are joined by a Program Officer from the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division of state government so that ideas generated can be forwarded to the regional Service Area Authority, the state-wide Oversight Advisory Council, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Governor’s Office.

Our LAC was greatly strengthened in 2013 when we sought recognition under the auspices of the Beaverhead County Commissioners to further validate the importance of our work. By January 2014, we were an official county board with governing by-laws, eleven commissioner-appointed voting members, a Commissioner representative, and elected officers. Our meetings are held the second Friday of every month from 12-2:00 in the Tom Welch meeting room in the County Treasurer’s building. Typically, numerous non-voting participants are also present and community members are welcome to attend!

In 2015, the LAC secured a grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation to promote integrative healthcare across the county. Through this grant, consultants with the National Council on Behavioral Health recognized us as the first project of this type in the nation aimed at county-wide, rather than single-agency, integration.

We now have on-going active committees, task forces, or collaborations working on the integration of behavioral health services into other facets of the community. You do not need to be a voting member, or even attend MHLAC meetings, to participate with these groups. If you are interested, we strongly encourage you to participate in one or more.

Current Task Forces, Committees, and Collaborations:

The ACE Task Force purpose is to increase awareness of adverse childhood experience research and promote trauma-informed approaches in our schools, community groups, and other services. They have conducted over 30 trainings, hosted a Mental Health First Aid course and purchased and disbursed educational material including two documentary films, and reached over 2,000 people in Beaverhead County with their message.

The Summit Planning Committee organizes a regularly occurring conference event as a resource for education and training targeting providers throughout the region. In 2017, over 130 individuals attended the conference luncheon hosted by the group. The featured keynote speaker was Jessie Close, sister of Glen Close the actress. The theme was Creating a Trauma-informed Community.

Universal Screening Promotion supports regular screening for behavioral and mental health issues as a critical piece in heading off mental health crises and identifying suicide risk. We do this by encouraging the incorporation of screening into already existing activities, when appropriate, and hosting supportive conversations to share ideas for best-practice strategies. This effort is responsible for creating our online providers resource list now regularly updated by the Women’s Resource and Community Support Center.

Crisis Intervention Team Training 

The LAC, in collaboration with the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Department and Dillon Police Department, offers a week long Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training to all local law enforcement and other first responders. CIT develops skills for responders encountering an individual experiencing a mental health crisis, including a protocol to deescalate the crisis, and to identify appropriate next steps.

The Resilience Oriented Community Curriculum (ROCC) Committee seeks to change the culture of mental healthcare in our community. We do this by raising awareness of mental health challenges, increasing skills to respond and identifying needed resources.  This committee is currently developing the multi-lesson curriculum and will begin presenting to businesses, community groups and other individuals before the end of 2019.

The Howard Gaines Community Service Award Committee accepts nominations and chooses a community member to honor each year for their service in promoting behavioral healthcare.  We believe scholarships and awards, such as this, bring visibility not just to the honored person for their significant contribution but also highlights the importance of this work.

The Public Relations Committee works to raise public awareness of programs, events, and information about mental health. It maintains our Facebook page, works with the county on our web presence, and coordinates other media and public relations materials.

In addition, we participate in the following collaborations:

– Women’s Resource/Community Support Center for Suicide Prevention Week events, Contact: 683-6106

Behavioral Health Service Provider’s List

Our community offers many choices for behavioral health (mental and addictive) type services. To help the community understand all of the resources available, the MHLAC comprised a list of all the licensed providers serving Beaverhead County residents. This list indicates whether practitioners serve adults or children, what services they specialize in, what types of payment they can accept, how long you can expect to wait, and how to contact them for appointments. This list is updated on a monthly basis by Brian Wheeler at the WRC. We are very grateful for this help! This list is currently not available in a mobile-friendly version but can be readily accessed via a computer.

Beaverhead County Area Providers List

Big Sky Behavioral Health Summit

Judith Grisel, Ph.D. signs copies of her book Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addition.

On three occasions in the past four years, the Beaverhead County Mental Health Local Advisory Council has hosted a two-day conference focused on Integrative Healthcare.  The theme of 2019 was “Face to Face with Trauma…What’s in your toolbox?”.  The Summit again hosted renowned national speakers including, Kevin Briggs (a California Highway Patrolman who has successfully interrupted 200 individuals intent on a suicidal jump from the Golden Gate Bridge), Ijeoma Achara, PhD (whose work focuses on the strength of the person with mental illness and/or addiction in order to build a behavioral health system that can move from reactive to a recovery oriented approach) and Judith Grisel, PhD (A renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovered drug addict, who provides an authoritative and accessible guide to understanding drug addiction).  Other presentations included:

  • Georgia Kady, RN “Human Trafficking in Montana”
  • Karl Rosston, LCSW:  “Caring for Patients with Suicide Risk” 
  • Benjamin Oosterhoff, PhD:  “An online depression screening”
  • Mark Schure, PhD & Bill Bryan, PhD:  “THRIVE-Computerized CBT” 

2018 – “Trauma Informed – Now What?”

2018 Keynote: Chamique Holdsclaw

The Summit once again hosted presentations by regional and national leaders in mental health research and counseling.  The keynote speaker was Olympic basketball champion, Chamique Holdsclaw who told of her personal experience with mental illness. Other speakers included Dr. Judy Cameron: Helping Children Build a Resilient Brain and Impact of Life and Experiences on Brain Development: The Brain Architecture Game, Jerry Girard, LCPC & LAC: “I Got This!” – A Solution Focused Resilience Workshop, Mary Morgan, LCSWYou Matter – Integrating Self-Care Into Your Practice, Melainya Ryan, LCPC & E-RYTRaising Consciousness – Meditation & Mindfulness Workshop, Dr. Dawn Cureton: How to Use Psychological Testing Reports to Guide and Enhance Therapeutic Interventions, and Vikki Howard, PhD & Erin Butts, MSWEveryday Strategies to Strengthen Resilience.


2017 – “Creating a Trauma-Informed Community”

From left to right: Glenn Close, Katherine Buckley-Patton, and Jessie Close.

On September 6-7, 2017,  the Summit featured exceptional presentations by some of Montana’s noted leaders in trauma-informed identification and care of children, substance abuse treatment and recovery models, and innovative interventions in our schools’ classrooms. In addition, nationally recognized Jessie Close, author of Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness, presented the keynote address to about 130 people. Her sister, the famous actress Glenn Close, surprised the crowd with an unannounced appearance to support and introduce Jessie. It was a grand event.


The Howard Gaines Award

This award honors Howard Gaines, a tireless advocate of mental health for over 20 years.  Howard Gaines was one of the first members of the Beaverhead Mental Health Local Advisory Council and the Western Service Area Authority.  Howard died in 2016. His service to the community has been recognized by a Proclamation of the Beaverhead County Commissioners and the MHLAC establishment of the Howard Gaines Behavioral Health Community Service Award. The award is open to mental health professionals and community leaders who support and enhance the mental wellness of our County. For more information on qualifications and the selection process, please see the link to the nomination form below.

The Howard Gaines Community Service Award Committee 2019 was given to Tim Visscher, M.D. at this year’s Big Sky Behavioral Health Summit.

TIM VISSCHER, M.D. graduated Tufts University School of Medicine in 1980, completed his internal medicine residency at University of WA, worked for Indian Health Services at Crow Agency in MT, and moved to Dillon in 1988 to work as a primary care physician. In 1996, Tim moved to Massachusetts to complete a residency in Psychiatry and a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He returned to MT in 2000 and worked with children, adolescents, and adults in southwest MT, primarily at community mental health centers. His colleague and friend Family Nurse Practitioner Pat Carrick nominated Tim for his nearly 20 years’ “work as a one-man, rural south-western Montana, roaming psychiatry clinic.”  He worked in “remote summer camps, hospital emergency departments, college and university settings, and traditional medical and psychiatric clinics. He put on hundreds of commuting miles every week, in all weather, year ‘round, year after year. He served in public health and private settings. He responded to the needs of young children, of elders, and those with various disabilities…”  “There are many who say Dr. Visscher was a lifeline during those many years. Those who know his care know he NEVER gave up on a patient, no matter how desperate the circumstances or overwhelming the problems. He never hesitated to help wrestle with dilemmas, no matter how relentless, he never refused to engage…in problem-solving. With his expertise and constant study, he often found solutions others couldn’t or wouldn’t suggest, or weren’t creative enough to offer. When life’s catastrophes overwhelmed, he always encouraged, asked us to try again, and imagined a future with hope we couldn’t see just then.”  Dr. Visscher recently retired from his formal psychiatric practice. We honor him for his life-long accomplishments, commitment, insightful vision of integrative behavior health, and his radiant gift for healing

Former Winners:

2018: Lynn Weltzien

2017: Julie Ingram


Name/Title Position Phone Email
Callie Triller Chair, Consumer Rep 206-618-6236
Jamie Flynn Secretary 406-683-3780 Email
Elaine Spicer Consumer Rep 406-925-3961
Tom Rice County Commissioner Rep 406-683-6750 Email
Kim Martinell Consumer Rep 406-596-1284 Email
Tom Schumacher Barrett Hospital/Healthcare Rep 406-683-3097
Katherine Buckley-Patton Consumer Rep 406-660-1637 Email
Jamie Vanderlinden Community Health Center Rep 406-683-4440
Heidi Peterson UMW 406-683-7180 Email
Michelle Grant Consumer Rep 406-596-1284
Tasha Felton Provider 406-223-0781