A local full-service psychiatric hospital is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Glen Oaks Hospital, which has been open since 1987, is the only full-service psychatric hospital in Hunt County.

“When you’ve been here 20 years, you’ve gone through the good and bad and weathered the storm, said Glen Oaks Hospital CEO Joel Klein.

Glen Oaks treats local residents of any age struggling with mental illness or chemical dependency.

The facility has four psychatraists on staff, some of who specialize in the treatment of certain age groups, and employs about 125 people from around the area, Klein said.

Last year was the busiest year ever for the facility and staff, Klein said, explaining that at times the 54-bed hospital was filled to capacity.

But, Klein stressed that not all the patients the hospital serves are in-patient.

Many of the programs offered by Glen Oaks involve day-programs and therapy sessions for those not staying at the facility.

But, the biggest shift Klein has seen during the past 20 years is more general acceptance of the mentally ill population and more understanding that mental illness is a real, treatable problem.

“We know it’s real,” Klein said. “We already know depression is one of the leading disorders.”

However, Klein said there are still misconceptions and stigmas attached to those with mental illnesses and chemical dependency and the treatment available to them. Some of the misconceptions and stereotypes come from television, he said.

Klein urges anyone who thinks they might need professional help to come by the facility and be screened free of charge by trained professionals, and to get accurate information about treatment options if needed.

“Come in, let’s talk,” he said.

He said the staff wants to “help the average individual know there’s treatment available.”

And he stressed that the patient’s privacy is paramount to the organization. The hospital’s staff is not allowed to even acknowledge that someone is a patient in the facility.

When admitted, the staff gives each patient a code, which the patient can then distribute to those they wish. Only those with the patient’s code will be able to find out any information, therefore protecting the patient’s right to privacy.

During the rest of 2007, Klein said, the hospital plans to continue to offer its patients the same level of service, is planning an open house to celebrate its anniversary, will be doing some remodelling, and hopes to offer mental health information seminars to the general public.

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