What is the Hancock County Sexual Assault Response Team?

What is the Hancock County Sexual Assault Response Team?

When a person is sexually assaulted, it is important for them be able to access legal, medical, emotional, and mental health care quickly and easily. A new Hancock County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), launched last year, is seeking to do just that. SART is a joint effort between local law enforcement, prosecutors, victim advocates, and medical professionals who work together to provide comprehensive care and justice for victims of sexual assault. This effort includes a team of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), local nurses who are trained and ready to provide medical and forensic examinations.

One in five women in the United States experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes, while nearly a quarter of men experience some form of sexual violence, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Nationwide, 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men report some sort of sexual assault or harassment within their lifetime.

Thanks to a grant from the Office of Women’s Health and the Indiana State Department of Health, local victims no longer must travel to Anderson or Indianapolis to undergo a special medical and forensic examination. Instead, they can now be treated locally at the Knightstown Health Care Center during business hours or in the Hancock Health emergency department after hours. Advocates hope this makes the process a little easier for people who are in crisis situations.

What is a sexual assault examination?

When someone is sexually assaulted, they may need professional care for their injuries, including the physical, mental and emotional. A sexual assault examination is intended to treat injuries and offer follow-up care, support, medication, and resources. The examination may also include a forensic examination, which is a specific examination to collect evidence for law enforcement and prosecutors seeking to identify, charge and convict the perpetrator.

What happens during the medical portion of the exam?

Trained medical professionals perform the sexual assault examination. The healthcare providers include a team of local Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners who understand the importance of sensitive, empathetic care during this vulnerable and frightening period. The medical portion of the examination includes a head-to-toe exam to identify injuries and offer treatment as needed, including medications that may prevent sexually transmitted infections. Patients will also be referred for follow-up care and offered other necessary resources.

What happens during a forensic examination?  

The forensic examination involves documenting any injuries and collecting evidence like bodily fluids to for law enforcement and prosecutors. A special assault kit is used to safely collect and store evidence before it is handed over to law enforcement.

Frequently asked questions

Do all sexual assault victims need an examination?

A sexual assault examination is designed to provide assistance and resources to the victim. However, adult patients are in control from start to finish. Patients can decide what portions of the medical examination they want to undergo and whether they want to also have a forensic examination to collect evidence. If a patient is unsure about reporting an assault to law enforcement, they have up to a year to decide if they want the evidence forwarded.

Where can someone go for a sexual assault examination?

Sexual assault examinations by a trained Sexual Assault Nurse can be obtained at the Knightstown Health Care Center during business hours or in the Hancock Health emergency department after hours.

Is it confidential?

The examination and any results are completely confidential unless the victim is a minor. Health care professionals are mandated reporters and must report any suspected sexual assault in minors to the proper authorities.

What does it cost?

There is no cost for the examination

Can a friend or family member be present?

Once again, the patient is in charge. If space is a consideration, the patient may be asked to limit the number of support people present during the examination. Or the patient may opt to have no one else present.

How soon should a sexual assault examination be done?

Ideally, sooner is better, especially when it comes to collecting forensic evidence after a sexual assault. Evidence can be collected for up to five days after an assault. However, there is no limit to how long a person can wait to undergo the medical portion of the examination.

What resources are available for sexual assault victims?

There are several local resources available to provide follow-up care:

Alternatives Incorporated serves Hancock, Hamilton, Henry, Madison and Tipton Counties and provides support and education to eradicate domestic and sexual violence in Central Indiana. A 24-hour crisis line is open at 866-593-9999.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open at 800-799-7233.

The Healthy365 Connection Center offers information on community resources, including healthcare, support groups and legal and protective services.   

Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery During the Holidays

Tips for Supporting a Loved One in Recovery During the Holidays

The holidays can be a challenge for someone who is recovering from substance misuse. Stress levels and mental health struggles can shoot up during the holiday season.  Holiday parties can feature copious amounts of alcohol and other substances. How can you support a family member who is in recovery this holiday season? The staff at the Healthy365 Connection Center has some simple suggestions for people who want to be loving and compassionate this holiday season.

Ask your loved one if they want to ride together to the event.

Walking into an event alone can be daunting. Sharing a ride means you’re enjoying extra strength in numbers when you make your entrance. It also gives you the opportunity to communicate privately with your loved one before an event. Discuss how long you want to stay at the event and commit to keeping an eye on each other during the festivities.

Rely on active listening during a conversation and reflecting on what you heard.

If your loved one trusts you enough to talk about their feelings and fears over the holiday season, consider that a compliment. Active listening is a skill that goes beyond hearing what the other person is saying. It involves strong eye contact, being aware of non-verbal cues and listening to understand, rather than to respond. Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions like “What concerns do you have about tonight’s event?” or “What do you think is your best strategy for handling pressure to drink alcohol at parties like the one we’re attending?” Listen and reflect on what you hear. Confirm that you understand what the other person is saying. You may want to say something like, “I hear you saying that you’re worried about cousin Pete and his comments about your non-alcoholic drink choices. How can I help?”

Consider hosting a sober event.

Holiday gathering don’t have to involve free-flowing alcohol or other substances. If you want to support your loved one in recovery during the holidays, consider hosting a sober event. Plan on popcorn, movies, board games, appetizers and sparkling grape juice for the midnight toast. Invite others who understand your motives and will be supportive as well. Or invite your loved one to dinner and a movie, where you won’t be surrounded by revelers.

Encourage your loved one to write out their boundaries and positive coping skills prior to the event.

Sobriety risk factors are personal. One person in recovery may need to avoid any events that feature alcohol and other substances, while another feels comfortable at those events as long as they don’t feel pressure to imbibe as well. Everyone has a personal right to their emotions and individual boundaries. Writing down coping skills helps commit them to memory and reinforces their validity.

Ask your loved one how you can support them.

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for a loved one. Instead of offering your own list of solutions, ask them what they would like you to do. Maybe they don’t want you to ban alcohol from your holiday party, but they would appreciate some fun non-alcoholic alternatives like the ones featured here. Perhaps they want help creating an escape strategy that lets them graciously leave if they become uncomfortable during the holiday celebrations. Or, maybe they simply want to be treated like any other guest. There are no right answers, only individual answers for the person you are supporting.

The holidays can be hard for people who are in recovery. You are not alone. If you or your loved one feel like you are needing some extra support over the holidays, call Healthy365 at 317-468-4231.

Manage Holiday Stress With Tips From Healthy365

Manage Holiday Stress With Tips From Healthy365

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, but even the most enthusiastic holiday aficionado can become overwhelmed with too many seasonal activities and expectations. Holiday spending, overbooked schedules, healthy eating concerns and the pressure of choosing just the right gift can weigh heavily on the brain during what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Add in loneliness, substance use disorders or other additional mental health concerns, and you might not be feeling the holiday spirit this season. Are you wondering how to manage holiday stress this season?

You’re not alone. One recent survey found that 18% of respondents said the holidays were “very stressful” and 44% called them “very stressful.” The greatest source of stress? Money issues. But healthy eating, family drama and working in the retail sector also contributed to higher stress levels over the holidays.

Healthy365 feels your holiday pain. As a community health improvement initiative that works to improve the wellbeing of Hancock County residents and families, we want to boost your holiday spirit with some self-care tips. While it’s easy to focus on what you need to do for everyone around you during the holidays, you can’t take care of others unless you’re taking care of yourself first!

Manage your time and don’t try to do too much

Your neighborhood cookie exchange is set for a Saturday, but your 10-year-old just came home and announced that it’s the same day as her Brownie holiday party. Then your spouse points out that the company party is later that evening, and your in-laws called and told you they are holding a special birthday party for all the December birthdays in the family, and it too falls on that Saturday. How are you going to manage holiday stress?

Spoiler – You can’t. No matter how strong and independent you strive to be, you’re going to need some help to make this all happen. Call on another Brownie mother to take your daughter to the party. Ask your in-laws to schedule the combined birthday party earlier in the day so you and your spouse can attend the company party in the evening. Touch base with the neighborhood cookie exchange organizer to find out if you can drop off your cookies ahead of time and pick up your assortment on Sunday. Or wish them well and tell them you’re going to have to skip the event this year.

Set boundaries to reduce holiday stress.

If you’re the go-to person in your family, you’ve probably trained them to see you as the person who can do it all. It’s time to adjust that attitude. Saying “no” is a powerful form of self-care. Is an activity adding to your holiday joy or draining your seasonal soul? You deserve a happy holiday, and it something is robbing you of that happiness, let it go. Practice saying no – it’s a lot easier once you get the hang of it. Are you already worrying about what to buy your nephews, who hand you a wish list on Thanksgiving and expect you to make it all come true? Call their parents now and tell them you’re going to be giving an experience instead, like an Indianapolis Zoo membership. You don’t have to be everything for everybody. Manage that holiday stress.

Practice relaxation and set aside time for yourself.

While you’re taking care of others this holiday season, who is taking care of you? Remember what the flight attendant tells you to do in case of an emergency? Put on your own oxygen mask first, and then help others put on theirs. You must take care of yourself first, or you won’t be able to care for others. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, although we’re not averse to taking some of the holiday budget and treating yourself to a professional massage. But a quiet walk in the woods (with your phone set to “silent”) can help you rediscover your serenity. Are you hoping to burn off some calories along with your holiday stress? Consider a Hancock Wellness Center membership to help you find fitness activities you enjoy.


There’s some truth to the adage that you make a living by what you get, and you make a life by what you give. Giving time can have powerful reverberations in the community, whether you’re signing up for a single volunteer opportunity or committing to regular shifts as a Hancock Regional Hospital volunteer. You can find more local volunteer opportunities here.

Manage holiday stress with therapy.

If life seems overwhelming, you may want to talk to someone who is trained to help. Fortunately, our Healthy365 Support Navigators are ready with sympathetic ears and access to local resources for your specific needs. If you’re already committed to regular therapy sessions, resist taking a holiday break. The holidays can add another layer of stress and pressure to your life, and you owe it to yourself to continue the care that can make a difference during trying times. If you’re seeking mental health help for the holidays – or throughout the year – contact the Healthy365 Connection Center. We serve residents of Greenfield, New Palestine, Cumberland, Fortville, McCordsville, Wilkinson, Shirley and Spring Lake.

A happy holiday starts with taking care of yourself. With these helpful tips, you can prepare yourself for a holiday you’ll look back on with happiness for years to come.

Our New Hancock County RISE Program: Resilience and Individualized Care, Safe Space and Empowerment

Our New Hancock County RISE Program: Resilience and Individualized Care, Safe Space and Empowerment

Hancock County Indiana RISE is our newest program here at the Healthy365 Connection Center. RISE stands for Resilience, Individualized care in a Safe Space, and Empowerment. The program is designed for Hancock County residents who are affected by mental health and substance use disorders. Laura DeArmond, LCSW, talks more about RISE below.

What is RISE?

As DeArmond explained, “RISE is a dual-diagnosis program. Substance use is the primary diagnosis, but as with most addictions, trauma, depression, and anxiety are all underlying. The best model is to treat both of those at the same time.” RISE is an outpatient treatment primarily for those in early recovery. “They are in control of what their treatment plan looks like,” said DeArmond. “We’ll support them and give them all the available options.”

What does treatment look like?

RISE services will include medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. Patients will receive mental health counseling and potential medication management with a psychiatrist. “We treat a lot of patients who don’t need the medication management or maybe they’re already receiving meds from their primary care physician,” said DeArmond. “We want to transfer to a psychiatrist when necessary, but not everyone needs that medication piece.”

Support Navigators can also help with case management if there are concerns of homelessness or unemployment. Support groups will begin as more patients join the program. Overall, RISE is designed to fill in any of the gaps or challenges that an individual may face in early recovery. 

How can someone join the RISE program?

Individuals can reach out directly to the Healthy365 Connection Center, or physicians can send in referrals as well. Krysti Montgomery will serve as the intake coordinator for RISE and will be the patient’s first point of contact. 

“They’ll talk to Krysti, get triaged, and she runs insurance so that we can make sure it gets accepted and there are no surprises,” explained DeArmond. Next, an hour-long intake is scheduled with DeArmond, when all their information is gathered in order to determine how often to meet (typically weekly) and any other services that may be necessary, such as a psych appointment, MAT treatment, case management, etc.

What is MAT treatment?

MAT is one of the most effective harm reduction strategies to prevent withdrawal. The RISE program will use a few different types to help individuals in their recovery journey, including suboxone. “Out of all MAT treatments, we’ve found that suboxone is not as addictive as some other treatments, and it can be closely monitored,” said DeArmond. 

Suboxone can produce a few side effects, but for most patients, pain is the biggest trigger for relapse and suboxone can take that away. Many patients even taper themselves down from suboxone on their own. “MAT is all about the process of meeting people where they’re at, and helping them get to recovery without judgment and stigma,” DeArmond said. 

How will RISE serve our community?

“It is my hope that the RISE Recovery and Wellness program will help to fill a gap in much-needed services for our community,” said Amanda Everidge MSW, LSW, Director of Community Health Improvement. “Concurrently addressing addiction, mental health, and social needs of an individual can have a significant impact on outcomes. We strive to meet individuals where they are and empower healthy behaviors in a stigma-free and supportive environment.”

The RISE program also partners with the CRAFT Support Group, which allows loved ones to better support patients in their recovery. “If a RISE patient is talking about their family really struggling or says ‘I just don’t feel like they understand,’ then I’ll typically give them information about CRAFT,” said DeArmond. CRAFT is a 16-week highly effective, evidence-based curriculum that supports communication and family dynamics. 

If you or someone you know could benefit from our RISE program, please reach out to the Healthy365 Connection Center today by calling 317-468-4231.

Finishing Strong in our Mental Health Campaign

Finishing Strong in our Mental Health Campaign

Have you heard about the Mental Health Campaign from the Hancock Health Foundation? Launched early last year, the goal of this $3.5 million campaign is to bring mental illness and substance misuse issues to light in Hancock County — and to bring an end to the darkness and suffering. The campaign has now reached $3 million in generous donations, and we are hoping to finish strong and band together to get our community to the finish line. Are you able to help fund this critical support and resources for Hancock County?

What are the goals of the Mental Health Campaign?

The Hancock Health Foundation’s Mental Health Campaign was started as an honest conversation about the issues of mental health and substance misuse and their impact on Hancock County. But it’s more than just the raising of voices. The $3.5 million goal for the campaign was put in place to fund two new mental health navigators, 10 new licensed social workers, school-based prevention and early intervention services and medication-assisted opioid treatment. 

What has the Mental Health Campaign done so far?

So far, the campaign has used generous community donations to make great strides in meeting those goals. Two new social workers have been hired, and navigators have seen 160+ clients. Contracts have been set with two local school systems, and multiple mental health programs have been established within those schools. Additionally, the newly launched RISE program is set to provide dual diagnosis services and medication-assisted treatment for those who need it. 

These services are primarily being conducted through the Healthy365 Connection Center, where Support Navigators work as caring community partners, provide a confidential listening ear and connect clients with local resources to overcome life’s many challenges. Even prior to the start of the campaign, Healthy365 was hosting their QPR suicide prevention training and CRAFT support group for individuals who have a loved one in addiction.

Why does the community need this campaign?

Some people might think that local Hancock County residents aren’t impacted by issues with mental health or drugs, but mental illness and substance misuse leave no community or age population untouched. In the U.S. overall, 1 in 4 adults—and 1 in 5 children—live with mental illness. More specifically, Indiana ranks 5th in the nation for states with the worst drug problems and ranks 2nd for youth suicide attempts. 

And right here in Hancock County, recent studies show that 65% of our youth report knowing someone who has had serious thoughts of suicide. But with your generous support, you can help us open up about mental health and substance misuse in our community. Early education and intervention about these concerns, particularly in schools, can literally save lives. 

Success stories from local residents

Don’t just take it from us. The Healthy365 Connection Center has served hundreds of clients in Hancock County – with life-changing results. Said one client, “I was just ready to walk out and give up. In all honesty, Healthy365 helped me a lot. It has changed so much since someone finally just listened.” And working with a Support Navigator is not just a one-time outreach. “They take the time to listen and get to know you and your needs and help you every step of the way,” said another client. “It’s not just done after one phone call, they really created a relationship with you and keep in touch regularly to make sure you are okay.”

Many individuals in our community have been trying to get help for their mental health or substance misuse for weeks, months or even years. But the Support Navigators are trained to provide a non-judgmental (and confidential) listening ear, as well as a connection to local resources. “I have been searching for help for the last 4-5 years,” said an additional client. “I’ve had overwhelming anxiety and did not know what to do. When I called Healthy365 I didn’t feel brushed to the side due to my history. They took time to listen, understand, and helped me figure out what to do.”

Would you like to learn more about the Hancock Health Foundation or their Mental Health Campaign? Visit their website today. Any support you can generously offer is appreciated as they aim to reach their final campaign goal of $3.5 million in donations.