Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Janice Reichelt
PCN Correspondent 

Recognizing those who work to support positive mental health in Phillips County; The past, present, and the future

 

December 25, 2019

Dale Freitag

Our nation decries the lack of mental health services yet, often doesn't give credit to the persons contributing on a regular basis to the cause. This is a small tribute in honor of their service and dedication to mental health in Phillips County over the past years. Some are retired, some have passed way, others have relocated, and some continue to serve in other roles. We appreciate them all.

The late Ned Mangis sponsored an educational piece in the Phillips County News - the "Counseling Corner" - in an effort to educate everyone on the benefits of counseling and understanding mental diseases. He was a contact with the State Department and one department head chided him when he described himself as "just a businessman from Malta" as they recognized him as a strong advocate that was insisting on improved services in our area. Ned was a tremendous mentor and helped many folks in that role. The fact that he was in his later years when he was doing this service is also inspirational.

The late Dale Freitag left a big void when he passed. He was an expert counselor who used personal experience and humor to help save people from themselves. He was a stand- out Alcoholics Anonymous leader for years and a man who went to the end of his life life life trying to help his friends struggling with addictions.

Janice Roberts devoted much of her time in Phillips County to the effort of improving the lives of children musically and mentally. Sher recently moved to Billings, Mont., but she mentored many children and helped them with their self-esteem issues and life paths for many years in Phillips County. She worked tirelessly to improve the Montana Foster Child program and insisted that the standards be raised by that department. Later, she became very involved with the care and treatment of our disabled servicemen and their families. She wrote many letters on these topics and even more notes of encouragement to persons in need of a kind word.

Principals John Roberts and Scott King were both a first line of defense in the Malta school system by finding appropriate assistance for students struggling with issues. Mr. King gave wonderful motivating speeches to his athletes, students, and parents. Both men counseled with encouraging one-on-one talks with struggling students and tried to help them make sense of their circumstances.

The late Robert Michaels and recently retired Clark Kelly dedicated much of their lives to troubled youth as the Youth Court Services peronnel. They assisted youths and their families throughout the court system and tried to help them learn from the experience and redirect their wayward efforts.

Tom Miller and his successor Scott Moran both ably handled the sheriff duties at the Phillips County Sheriff's Office and the associated mental health factors that are not often spoken of, but certainly exist.

The late John Richardson took the responsibility of ministering to the depressed and lonely seriously. He never really retired and continued his mission of uplifting the ill and being the hospital and nursing home chaplain until his death.

Pastor Kent Gordon represents our ministerial community who all do an enormous amount of counseling each year. Pastor Kent has performed many of the memorial services of persons who have committed suicide. His active Veteran status and his role as a teacher positioned him well for these requests, but his unwavering desire to do "God's Will" helps him get through these tough duties.

Dr. Jim "Kicker" Curtis mentored many people in his dual role of a recovered alcoholic, prominent businessman, and active church member. We all benefited from his humor and matter-of-fact summation of problems and solutions.

Robert Michaels

The Local Advisory Council for Mental Health is having a name change per the Department of Health and Human Services that umbrellas them. It will be titled the Local Advisory Council of Behavioral Health in the future. All past participants and members are thanked for their services and time. Furthermore, the CCC group that was led by Ward VanWichen and later maintained by Fallon Handley are thanked for their concern and effort. The groups have been combined in an effort to have a more unified effort on this matter.

We need heroes and wanted to celebrate the past efforts of some of our local persons who have made a difference for our community in the mental health area. We thank them! This story also includes pictures and bylines of other people who are currently trying to improve the mental health treatment system in Phillips County.

 

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