Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center (NWAMHC) is home to the Short Term Adolescent Residential Treatment (START) program located in Fayette County, Alabama. NAMHC is a non-profit organization that offers a continuum of care, including START and other outpatient treatment programs. START–which has been in operation since 1993–is a residential treatment program for female clients ages 13 to 18. Only residents of Alabama are eligible for this state-funded program. The START program is based on the 12-step principles and the belief that young women can better themselves, develop healthy self-esteems and practice accountability.
Accommodations and Food
The START facility is a newly-built, single-story residence that resembles a house found in a suburban development. The residence contains 16 beds. There are two twin beds in every room and roommates share a bathroom. Parents are responsible for providing linens, toiletries and personal items for clients. If there is a co-pay for a prescription, the family is responsible. If a client runs out of a toiletry product and has not asked her parents to bring it, staff will contact the parents to see if they would like to pay for the product.
Clients meet for three group meals a day in the central cafeteria. Meals are provided by the USDA program at no additional cost.
Treatment and Staff
Clients must be assessed and complete a physical exam prior to gaining admission into the program. Length of treatment is 60 to 90 days, unless staff determine a different length of treatment in keeping with client individualized treatment plans. The START program is based on the 12-step principles. Staff have NA meetings brought in, on-site, twice a month.
START is certified through the Alabama Department of Mental Health as an ASAM Level III.5 crisis residential adolescent treatment program. START also identifies as a co-occurring disorders program. Clients live in a structured setting that focuses on individuals taking responsibility for themselves and their recovery. Treatment includes individual, group, family and recreational therapy; written assignments; learning and practicing basic living skills; drug education; case management; didactic groups and developing continuing care plans. Staff help clients plan for outpatient treatment once they are ready to leave the START program. Referrals are available for aftercare programs (offered at NWAMHC).
Clients participate in group therapy four hours a day, with a minimum of one hour individual therapy a week. Families are required to attend a family program on Sundays before visitation with the clients (which takes place each week). Individual family sessions are available, as needed.
Education is one of the key pillars of the START program. Staff are hand-picked from the Alabama Department of Education. Clients attend school on-site with these teachers, who use coursework materials from Alabama public schools. Teachers prepare students with GED and ACT preparation to assist clients in completing graduation requirements. Students are graded and have report cards sent to their schools of origin. The SMART program works in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Education to provide any academic resources clients need. A teacher on-site keeps clients on task with curriculum requirements.
The START program accepts referrals from the courts, physicians, families and schools. START admits pregnant females after the first trimester, though clients who are in their third trimester will not be admitted.
The NAMHC START programs accepts Medicaid or any other insurance, though the services are state funded. The Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center START program is an ideal residential treatment center for young women who require special attention to stay on track with schooling. The program is primarily based on the 12-steps, so clients who are seeking alternatives to this approach should pursue other treatment programs. Clients work through problems with addiction as staff help to motivate them to build stronger self-worth and self-esteem early on in their lives. Families in Alabama benefit from this program at a nominal cost.
Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center
1100 7th Ave
Jasper, AL 35501
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Photo courtesy of SusanLowe