Re-posted from the Times Tribune

Jermyn resident Maureen Walsh has dedicated the last 33 years of her life to helping people with mental illnesses.

Champion of mentally ill: Jermyn woman helps people through position at Allied

As director of behavioral health at Allied Services, she works to ensure patients in Allied’s residential, supported and independent living programs across three counties receive proper care and attention.

Ms. Walsh began working at Allied in 1981 after earning a bachelor’s degree in human services and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Scranton.

“I wanted a field where I could actually work with people and help them. I didn’t want to sit behind a desk,” she said.

Early in her career, she worked individually with patients suffering from a wide range of serious mental illnesses, from schizophrenia to bipolar disorfder to major depression. As a resident counselor, she helped her patients achieve their goals of independence and lifelong recovery.

As time went on, Ms. Walsh proved herself and moved up the ranks at Allied.

“I started as a residential counselor. Then, as we grew, I became the admissions coordinator. From there I became the assistant director and eventually the director,” she said.

Today, she supervises nearly 500 behavioral health professionals and support staff working at Allied’s various residential and supported-living programs.

“There is no typical day,” she said. “I have programs in three counties. Mondays and Wednesdays, I’m in Bradford County; Tuesdays and Fridays, I’m here in Lackawanna; and Thursdays, I’m in Schuylkill County.”

Ms. Walsh oversees Allied’s Community Residential Rehabilitation program facilities in those counties. The facilities vary in levels of care from residential facilities and independent living programs to programs for people who do not need a fully monitored, live-in care environment but who are not yet ready to live on their own.

“I visit all of those programs and review regulations and policies and procedures,” she said.

Ms. Walsh’s dedication to her work and the people she cares for has not gone unnoticed. In 2002, she was recognized by the Scranton area chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. On Sept. 24, Allied Services awarded her the Charles Luger Memorial Employee Award acknowledging the excellence and dedication with which she goes about her work.

“I was very honored and humbled,” she said. “What was really nice was that past recipients of the award came up to me and introduced themselves.”

For Ms. Walsh, caring for individuals with mental illness isn’t just a job. She genuinely wants to help people and to give them the best quality of life she can. She works with various community and government organizations to support not only her patients but also their family members to ensure everyone involved in the mental health care experience receives the care and support they need.

“They’re individuals. They’re just like you and me, it’s just that they have an illness,” she said of the people she cares for. “Just like some people have diabetes or high blood pressure, these people have a mental illness. With treatments and medications and support services, they can live a fulfilled life and work and do everything that we do.”

On the whole, Ms. Walsh’s has a positive outlook on the mental health care community, and she understands it takes a group effort to provide efficient care.

“In my experience with people I’ve worked with, I think we all care. I think we all want people to do well, and we work together so that everybody can receive whatever services are available,” she said of the mental health care comuntity. “We try very much to do whatever we can to ensure that the services that people need are being offered.”