Depression. Anxiety. PTSD. Substance Use Disorder. These conditions are the topic of many state and national health campaigns, and are also included in many news headlines.
The graphic below from the National Alliance on Mental Illness shows some powerful statistics on the prevalence of mental illness.
For quite some time, I personally have been trying to learn more about what mental health resources are available in our community, and to get a better idea of how this system works.
I decided to go directly to three local providers. They are Kerry Possehn who is the CEO of The Right Door, Kristy Blackmer who is the owner of Be Well Counseling & Consulting Services, LLC, and Dr. Hiral Patel from Horizon Psychological Services, PLLC.
I asked each of these mental health professionals the same questions. When asking these questions, I specified that the target audience for this piece is people who live in Portland and who have no experience seeking or receiving mental health services. This piece is intended to be a true introduction to resources in the community. Please keep in mind that mental health services are not just for those who may be sick or ill, but also for those who wish to improve their overall wellness.
1. Who would you say should seek mental health services and when?
Kerry Possehn: “Mental health plays an important role in everyone’s overall well-being. Studies show mental health impacts the social/emotional and physiological wellness of an individual. It influences how an individual reacts to stress, relates to others, and when making choices. Our agency treats all agency as mental health treatment IS important for all ages – from childhood/adolescence to adulthood. Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse; or imbalances biologically in a person, family history of mental health problems are all important factors to consider in your overall mental health. As an agency, we coordinate care with physical health providers to ensure treatment of the whole person.”
Kristy Blackmer: “When experiencing a drastic life change or challenge, it may seem intuitive to seek outside support. However, most anybody can benefit from therapy, even when they are not facing major life transitions or crises. Having a non-bias outside source to help explore one’s inner self can facilitate growth and motivate change. If you’re feeling sad, hopeless, anxious, ‘stuck’, or just like you’re not reaching your full potential, therapy is for you. If you’re struggling in your relationships, with your sleep or physical health, or not experiencing life as joyfully as you’d like, therapy can help. If you’re using drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, or gambling to avoid feeling your feelings, talking with a therapist can assist you in developing healthier coping skills.”
Dr. Hiral Patel: “Mental health services are not exclusively limited to people experiencing mental illness. They can benefit anyone who is experiencing difficult life events, looking for self-discovery and growth, and undergoing life transitions. Having an outlet that provides compassionate and non-judgmental space can not only be healing, but also help you gain some clarity and confidence.
It is important to seek help when:
You are noticing that you are “not yourself”.
There are unintentional changes in your diet and sleeping patterns.
There have been changes in your behaviors, mood, and attitude and these changes are undesirable or are hindering in some capacity.
You feel “stuck” in a situation, phase of life or relationship.
You don’t enjoy the things you used to enjoy.
You are going through a difficult transition in your life.
You have experienced something traumatic.
You are experiencing relationship/marital problems.
You have difficulty obtaining or maintaining healthy relationships.
You notice that you keep repeating the same unhealthy patterns.
Someone who cares or loves you or a professional has told you that you should seek help.”
2. What types of services does your organization offer locally in Portland?
Kerry Possehn: “We offer numerous services in Portland. I have attached our description of services for your review. As we are a county-based care provider, all services are available to county residents. A few of the numerous services are psychiatric and nursing services, individual and group therapy, 24/7 crisis response and intervention, and community-based services such as Case Management, Support Coordination, Home Based Services.”
Kristy Blackmer: “Be Well Counseling & Consulting Services, LLC (Be Well) provides counseling services to individuals, couples, families, and groups. We serve clients across the lifespan. We also provide consulting services to businesses and organizations who wish to provide their employees with on-site counseling services or executive coaching and team-building. Additionally, Be Well offers supervision services to limited licensees working to achieve their full professional counseling licensure in the State of Michigan.”
Dr. Hiral Patel: “Horizon Psychological Services provides talk therapy for mental & emotional health, as well as unique services involving EMDR and Hypnotherapy for adults.
EMDR is leading treatment for PTSD and it has been shown to be one of the most effective treatments for various psychological traumas, such as, traumas as result of divorce, betrayal, sexual assault, domestic violence, childhood abuse and/or neglect, and serious accidents.
Clinical Hypnotherapy has been around for a long time. It is great for individuals suffering from various problems, including but not limited to, anxiety related issues, addiction, depression, stress, trauma, sleeping difficulties, chronic pain, and self-esteem issues.”
3. What advice would you give to someone who has health insurance but is concerned that mental health services may not be covered?
Kerry Possehn: “My advice would be to call/come in to our agency and meet with one of our Benefit Specialists. The Benefit Specialists can assist in calling your insurance company and working through what the benefits cover (or do not cover).”
Kristy Blackmer: “Prospective clients should contact their insurer directly to verify their mental health coverage. Their insurer will be able to help find local in-network service providers. If mental health services are not covered by their insurance, they may still engage in treatment by paying out of pocket.”
Dr. Hiral Patel: “Health insurance entities have begun to recognize that Mental health is part of physical health. There is an abundance of research showing how mental health and physical health are closely connected. And now, it appears that insurance companies are beginning to invest in people’s mental health. They are recognizing that investing in mental health services reduces future costs for health related issues. Majority of insurance companies cover mental health services. It would be a good idea to call your insurance provider and ask them about your mental health services coverage.
Horizon Psychological Services offers free initial face-to-face consultation to see we are right fit for you.”
4. For someone who does not have health insurance, what information can you share on the anticipated costs of services?
Kerry Possehn: “All individuals are provided with an Ability-to-Pay with the Benefit Specialist to determine how much each individual/family must pay monthly. The amount is determined based on a State of Michigan sliding-fee scale.”
Kristy Blackmer: “A typical session fee is $145 for 50 minutes. Be Well providers do offer sliding scale services to clients who do not have health insurance. At times, we also have supervised interns on staff who provide low cost services to clients in need. If someone is unable to afford counseling services, we will provide referrals to community service agencies who may be able to help.”
Dr. Hiral Patel: “I want mental health services to be accessible to everyone so I offer discounted rates based on their income and financial situation.”
5. If someone feels that they need mental health services, should they discuss the situation with their primary care physician prior to contacting a mental health provider?
Kerry Possehn: “Yes, an individual can contact their primary care physician. However, an individual can come to our agency at any time, or call our 24/7 crisis services line to access mental health services.”
Kristy Blackmer: “A referral from a primary care physician is not necessary to begin counseling services (though potential clients may wish to verify with their insurer that a prior authorization is not needed for insurance coverage).”
Dr. Hiral Patel: “Referral for mental health services are not needed. Anyone can reach out directly to a mental health provider. However, I will state that, it is a good idea to discuss their mental health concerns with their Primary Care Provider. In some situations, additional psychiatric treatment may be warranted.”
6. If I have a friend or loved one that I feel could benefit from mental health services, what advise could you give on how I should address this with them?
Kerry Possehn: “Encouragement to seek services, support in reaching out to a mental health provider, attending the first consultation/screening with your friend or family member are helpful.”
Kristy Blackmer: “Stigma, shame, and not wanting to admit that anything is wrong can certainly make this a sensitive topic to approach with a friend or loved one. Genuinely show your concern for their well-being in a kind and loving manner, being mindful of time and place. Avoid suggesting therapy during the heat of conflict or when the individual is tired or angry, when others are present, or they’re heading out the door for work or school. Avoid criticisms, judgments, or ultimatums. Offer thoughtful suggestions and meaningful support, such as helping them to find a provider, calling their insurer to verify their benefits, helping them fill out their intake paperwork, or to go with them and sit in the waiting room during their first appointment. Assure them of your continued love while they work through whatever challenges they may be facing.”
Dr. Hiral Patel: “Seeing our loved ones suffer can be heart-breaking. When discussing with your loved one that they should see someone, it is critical to have a non-judgment stance, especially since there is stigma against receiving mental health services. It is important that you let them decide when they would like to reach out for help (unless they are in imminent danger of hurting themselves or others). There is a difference in pushing someone vs encouraging them. When you push, it can make someone feel like they are losing their voice and choice, which can sometimes add to their mental health problems. Providing them with available mental health resources and, if asked, being there while they make the call is a strong step in the right direction.”
7. Is there any additional information about your organization that you think would be helpful for this article?
Kerry Possehn: “The Right Door for hope, recovery and wellness works to be an integral and valued partner in our community committed to the overall wellness of all our community members. Our agency values include providing accessible, quality care, healing, wellness and recovery throughout our county. We offer a multitude of services through person-centered or family-centered treatment. The Right Door is committed to be trauma informed and responsive in our community and we treat every person with respect and dignity.”
Kristy Blackmer: “For anyone considering therapy, make the call. It takes great courage to take that first step to seek help. As Mr. Rogers said, "Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
Dr. Hiral Patel: “Horizon Psychological Services was established because there is a recognized need for mental health services to strengthen families, individuals, and community by promoting mental health through education, and therapeutic services.”
Local provider information:
The Right Door
Address: 208 W. Bridge Street, Portland, MI 48875
Phone: 517-647-2128 (24-hour toll-free crisis line 888-527-1790)
Be Well Counseling & Consulting Services, LLC
Address: 212 Kent Street, Suite 4B, The Kramer Building, Portland, MI 48875
Horizon Psychological Services, PLLC
Address: 1447 E Grand River Ave, Portland, MI 48875 (NOW OPEN)
Please note that the list above is not all inclusive. We did reach out to some other local providers of mental health services, but as of the time of this posting, we have not received a response from them.
The Portland Beacon would like to thank all three of these professionals for taking the time to work with us on this piece.