Mental healthcare services are available in the Northwoods
It can be trying times for individuals and families who need mental health services these days, especially those living in rural areas like Wisconsin’s Northwoods. But there are options available for those seeking out this kind of assistance.
“There are a lot of misconceptions out there about mental health services in this part of the state,” said Jules O’Neal, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Jules works at The Price-Decker Clinic in Rhinelander.
One of the misconceptions is that patients needing mental health services require a doctor’s referral.
“There are many clinics in this area that don’t require a mental health referral at all,” said Jules. “People can just call and come in when they need to.”
Another barrier for people seeking a mental health professional is the stigma of it, that only very crazy people need this kind of help.
“This is a huge issue,” said Melissa King, office manager at the clinic. “There is a stigma attached to people who seek out mental health services. It’s very frustrating to break away from that. In reality, sometimes people just need to talk. They need an unbiased opinion about an issue or just some reassurance on which path to take in life.”
Others believe that personal information taken at a session may be reported to their employer or family.
“There are very few cases where that happens,” said Jules. “Only if someone is harming someone else or is thinking of taking their life do we have to report it.”
Jules also noted the specialized training mental healthcare givers receive.
“Mental health clinics are safe places for people,” she said. “We are not here to judge or criticize. We want to help people get better and be able to move on with their lives.”
And if a mental health professional is not trained to deal with the issues of a particular patient, he or she relies on a long list of other professionals in the area who can help.
“For the most part, we work together to get help for people,” said Judy Dunn, a licensed clinical social worker at the clinic. “There is a wide range of professionals in this area who provide a variety of services.”
Of course, one of the biggest hurdles for mental health providers is funding their clinics. It’s no secret that over the years, insurance companies have consistently cut payment options for mental health services.
“There are options available,” said Melissa. “Some people qualify for a sliding fee scale and we always try and find a way to make it work. If someone seeks out our help we will try and work with them on a payment plan.”
While it seems that mental health services are more important than ever before in this day and age, state and federal programs are lagging. For instance, Badgercare is about the only program providing mental health coverage, although that could change in the near future.
“There have been a lot of cuts to the Badgercare system, but so far mental health is still included,” said Melissa. “The scary part about that is the patients with Badgercare are actually keeping mental health clinics open. If it wasn’t for Badgercare, many clinics would have to close because of lack of funding.”
There are many health care providers in the area who are trained in different therapy modes. Some are excellent family and marriage practitioners others counsel children or individuals.
“The most important thing is if someone feels like they need some help to seek it out,” said Jules. “They will most likely find it in this community.”
To find out more about particular health care services in the area, call 715-362-5437.