Staff Expert Jennifer Dorschug
Staff Expert Jennifer Dorschug – GCB Mental Health Services Director
Tell us about yourself – what was your path to GCB? Can you describe your role and how long have you worked here?
I am originally from Cleveland, where most of my family still resides. I attended the University of Toledo, where I earned my BA in Social Work and then received my MSW from the University of Kentucky. I originally relocated to Cincinnati for a job with the Bethany House. When I started with GCB, I went from care manager, to supervisor, to program manager and in 2014, I became the Mental Health Services Director.
I currently work in Butler, Clermont and Hamilton counties, overseeing our Transition to Independence (TIP), Transitional Youth team, the FIRST program (early on-set of psychosis), Deaf Services Program, Clermont Forensic Team, and three adult serving case management teams.
How did you become interested in your field?
My grandmother and mother both struggled with schizophrenia, but back then, there was not as much awareness or education available.
I was 17 by the time my mother was diagnosed, so my younger brother and I had a very rocky road growing up. Unfortunately, she had no insight into her illness. One day, when I was in my early 20’s, we found her in a state hospital in California. After she had been stabilized on medication, she called me. For the first time that I can remember, she was delusion-free, lucid and had it together. We were able to have a conversation that was more meaningful than any we had ever had before. I made the decision right then to switch my career focus to mental health and got on board at GCB.
What about your field or clients do you think more people should know?
Mental illness does not have to be a life sentence. Many go on to need less intensive treatment over time. With the right supports in place, proactive intense treatment can work! Sixty percent of our youth clients are either working or in school – many are living independently.
The treatment model, expectations of treatment, has really evolved. Where ‘bedrest’ may have been prescribed before, the focus now is getting clients back to baseline, as quickly as possible. We surround them with intense wraparound services and teach them how to build skills for maximum independence. Care management works, but significant life changes can take time to happen. You can’t microwave care management; it’s a slow-cooker process.
What are the biggest trends in your area of expertise?
There is a growing interest in better understanding the effects of trauma in adolescent behavior. There is an increased need or focus on improving earlier detection of mental health and depression in youth. Our hopes are that recent events will lead to more funding of early detection practices. There are more practitioners in the field, training community professionals on how to detect early signs of mental illness.
What is life like outside of work?
I enjoy running, actually started with an internal GCB team here years ago – hated it at first, but I stuck with it. I’m planning on running the relay at this year’s Flying Pig. I’m also a foodie – I like to cook and eat at all the restaurants! I enjoy going to concerts, local as well as larger bands. I have two young daughters, five and six, that also keep me really busy.
We’re a big agency, but we still feel small, especially in terms of the quality of the relationships between staff and their clients. Our staff still want to become better clinicians. The focus is all about collaborations and best interest of the client and outcomes. That hasn’t changed since the merger – our people are still passionate about their work. I’ve seen care management work and literally save people’s lives.
At this time, I am just focusing on the work at hand and the quality of what I am producing. I am making sure I can confidently put my name on everything I have out there. A particular passion of mine is focusing on developing and retaining staff - how to best build into them and develop their pride and interest in building a career here. Case management can be a difficult job but there are so many benefits to the experience.