By ROBERTA CODEMO
    In January 2016, the expanded Behavioral Health and Wellness Center at Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville opened its doors. Located at 5900 Bond Ave., the 30-bed center provides inpatient and outpatient mental health services in a warm, welcoming and open environment for improved patient outcomes. Touchette is the only center of its kind in St. Clair County and offers what it calls one of the most innovative approaches to behavioral health in the region.
    The center has trained therapists and social workers on its staff that focus on treating mental health illnesses.
    The open-concept center underwent modern upgrades including adding enhanced safety measures, more beds, larger interview rooms, centralized nurse’s station, as well as double-lock doors and therapy rooms. Patients are encouraged to participate in therapy sessions including activity therapy, recreational therapy, substance abuse groups and support groups.
p12 Dr Christopher LoyndDr. Christopher Loynd    One unique addition is an adolescent outpatient program that provides outpatient group therapy for 12- to 17-year-olds. “It’s the only program of its kind in the area,” said Dr. Christopher Loynd, staff psychiatrist. He received a Doctor of Osteopathy degree in 2003 from Des Moines University in Des Moines, Iowa, and completed his residency in psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
    The center provides both inpatient and outpatient care for behavioral health services to adolescents and adults throughout the region. Behavioral health is a catchall term that encompasses all psychiatric illnesses. The most common behavioral health illnesses are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and substance abuse.
    The care team works in unison to help patients with their cognitive, social and medical needs to help them return to society without posing a risk to themselves.
    “It’s important to treat the whole patient,” he said.
    Fifty percent of patients with mental illness also have chronic medical conditions.
    “Patients with mental illness often have poor insight into their overall health,” he said. It’s important to focus on improving both their mental and overall health. “By improving their quality of life, we improve the average length of their life.”
    There’s a huge need for behavioral health services, especially among the underserved population, which is often overlooked and there aren’t enough available resources. “There aren’t enough beds to go around.
    “Unfortunately, there’s always been a stigma attached to mental illness,” he continued. In the past, patients were often deemed incompetent and locked up. Now we know that mental illness is a medical condition like any other illness. “Patients can live with it with the right treatment.”