For the past 39 years, people who have needed mental health help have had Cindy Ritchie.
Ritchie has worked for Central Utah Counseling Center as a secretary, office manager, treatment coordinator and for the past 11 years has been the case manager for the Sevier County Drug Court.
“I’ve had the opportunity to interview every drug court client as they leave the program,” said Chad Williams, team leader at CUCC. “Everyone of them talks about how they appreciate her compassion and empathy.”
The work is something Ritchie said she will miss when she retires this week.
“I want to help people and give then an opportunity to make changes in their lives,” Ritchie said.
In the time Ritchie has worked in the mental health industry, she said she’s seen things change.
“When I first started everything was taboo,” Ritchie said. For the first eight or so years, many clients seeking mental health treatment would park their cars a block away as to not be seen at the CUCC’s office, Ritchie said.
However, over time people have become more comfortable with the need for counseling.
“We have a great team of therapists working to help people,” Ritchie said.
The drug court program, which started in Sevier County in 2001, is designed to combine counseling, supervised probation and court sanctions to help people overcome drug addictions.
“For some people it’s their last chance,” Ritchie said. “Initially a lot of them are not happy to be there, but if they stick with it they find that they like being sober.”
Clients in drug court have to submit to random checks and also have rules they have to follow. Failing to follow the rules or having a dirty drug test can result in sanctions from the court, like having the probation term extended or going to jail.
However, those who complete the program successfully can have their initial drug charges wiped from their records.
“We work with them to make sure whatever happened doesn’t happen again,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie said the program has been successful in helping many people kick habits that they started off with as adolescents. In fact, one former drug court client now works for CUCC, passing on the things learned while in the program, Ritchie said.
An open house for Ritchie has been set from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, May 31, at the CUCC, 236 South 100 East in Richfield.
Williams said the CUCC will miss Ritchie and the role she’s played in fulfilling the agency’s mission.
The CUCC is primarily funded through Medicare, and is run by a board of directors that includes representatives from each of the six county commissions in its service area — Sevier, Wayne, Piute, Sanpete, Juab and Millard.
“The message we want to get out there is ‘don’t give up,’” Williams said. “We are here to help people who are in crisis.”
One of the focuses of the CUCC has been in suicide prevention, and issue that has been in the forefront in south central Utah in the past couple of years.
“Suicide attempts are often impulsive acts,” Williams said. He said its important to keep items that can be used in a suicide attempt locked up.
The CUCC also has a crisis line for people who are having suicidal thoughts — (877) 469-2822.
“That connects them with a crisis work 24/7,” Williams said.