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SPRINGFIELD — Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, southeastern Vermont’s nonprofit community mental health agency, is collaborating with the Institute for Community Health to conduct a community needs assessment. This confidential assessment survey seeks to understand people’s needs and experiences related to improving the system of care for mental health and substance use services in Windsor and Windham counties.

This survey is focused on capturing the experiences and needs of individuals who receive services in Windham and Windsor counties, those seeking services and those who have had services in the past. People who complete the online survey will be entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift cards. The first 500 individuals to complete the survey will also receive a $10 gift card.

A second survey was released in late February to capture the perspectives of community providers and Health Care and Rehabilitation Services staff on enhancing the quality of care in our communities. Both assessments are expected to run through the middle of March.

The assessment results will be a key factor in the agency’s plans to improve the quality of mental health and substance use services and collaboration among providers as part of their effort to become a certified community behavioral health center.

The certification is a national model that seeks to address health disparities and social determinants of health that contribute to mental health and substance use experiences. This is achieved through an assessment process, a focus on population-specific evidence-based practices, and enhanced funding through a four-year grant from the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

George Karabakakis, CEO of Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, said, “The rates of adults struggling with mental health issues as well as opioid-related overdoses in Vermont are higher than the national average. We know from other community needs assessments that mental health services are one of the top three most important health issues in our communities. We also know that many in need of services in our community are mostly disconnected from services. Our community needs assessment will seek to understand why.”

The agency also intends to host a series of listening sessions for those with mental health or substance use disorders, as well as service providers, in March and April. Information on these sessions will be posted on its website,, as soon as the schedule is available.

To complete the assessment survey or obtain further information, visit