BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — One in four people will experience a mental health concern this year, but many are hesitant to reach out for help.
In tonight’s Your Money Matters, how a new grant will soon help break down barriers to care for more people in the Brookings area.
“When we talk about treating a physical symptom we might have…getting our thyroid checked or looking at managing our diabetes, those are things we tend to be very comfortable about talking bout and approaching our primary care with,” Nikki Eining, an out patient therapist with Avera Behavioral Health in Brookings said.
But when it comes to treating a brain concern, people are much more hesitant to reach out. It’s why Avera Behavioral Health is working towards integrating mental health care into regular primary care clinics.
“Up to 75 percent of clinic visits at a primary care clinic has a mental health component to it. So having a counselor that’s right there on site can be a huge component,” Avera Behavior Health Hospital Assistant VP Thomas Otten said.
It’s something Avera Behavioral Health has already done at several Sioux Falls clinics, but a $100,000 grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation is helping the Brookings clinic add integrated behavioral health staff.
“Brookings is such a unique community, we of course have the largest university in the state. So we have young adults leaving their home and their family system to start that independent life journey,” Eining said.
It’s a stage of life that often brings some of the highest rates of mental health concerns.
“The biggest increase in suicides is really in the younger populations, up through the age of 24,” Otten said.
But this new grant will help Brookings add two integrated mental health counselors who can help reach students and other patients right at their regular appointments.
“We know right now, just sitting in the office and waiting for people to call,” Eining said. “That is just not realistic in getting people the care they deserve, so it is our responsibility as providers to look at innovative solutions.”
“When I drive up to the primary care clinic nobody knows if I’m there to see a counselor or if I’m there to see my family practice doctor or whoever else might be providing services there. So it really reduces a lot of that stigma and helps us to treat that patient right where they’re at,” Otten said.
This new position in Brookings will also help people navigate their behavioral health care options to help take away some of the stress just finding care can cause, further eliminating the barriers that prevent some people from seeking care.