Eau Claire (WQOW)- A local clinic shut down its mental health program in the spring and at that time, it didn't think it would ever return. But fast forward to September and the clinic is once again helping those struggling with mental illness.
"When I closed it down, I believed it would be closed forever," admits Chippewa Valley Free Clinic Director Teddi Martin. "We really closed down pretty much in April. And we had closed down primarily because we didn't have any providers. We were having mental health clinics that people were showing up for and I didn't have a psychiatrist here."
But that all changed in September. Thanks to some recruiting by staff members, area psychiatrists have stepped up to volunteer their time. The mental health program is back, but with a few changes.
"The great thing that we're offering now is counseling services along with the medication," explains Chippewa Valley Free Clinic Executive Director Maribeth Woodford.
"Mental health services in Eau Claire that are available to people with limited income don't cover counseling. They cover med management," says Martin. "And so the counseling is where the need is. With many of our people who have life circumstances that are difficult right now, it's really counseling that they need more than medication."
The clinic doesn't treat severe cases; instead directing those people to mental health programs with more resources. Most patients that turn to the clinic for help are battling depression.
"They're just having some problems getting their needs met; having problems with their self-esteem, with getting back on their feet and being more assertive and trying to get jobs," Martin says. "We recognize more that there are effects to things that happen in people's lives and that they need the opportunity to at least talk them through."
The clinic provides mental health services on the second and fourth Thursday of the month by appointment only. If you are interested in making an appointment, you can call the Chippewa Valley Free Clinic at (715) 839-8477.
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