BELOIT—Beloit Area Community Health Center (BACHC), 74 Eclipse Blvd., is expanding its behavioral health offerings to meet growing mental health needs in the community, according to Behavioral Health Director, M. Don Knight.
Knight came to BACHC in February to lead the behavioral health department.
Knight said those at the center had begun talking about expansion prior to COVID-19. However when the pandemic hit, there were even more needs.
“We have had an uptick in those with depression and anxiety, “ Knight said.
The center already has brought on two new therapists to accept new clients, Lindsey Anderson and Lee Humphrey. A third therapist is coming on board at the end of July, and one job still needs to be filled.
Knight explained how existing therapists were carrying a caseload of anywhere from 50 to 70 cases.
“We are trying to get more therapists to lower the amount of cases and be able to accept new clients as well,” Knight said.
BACHC also will be offering a substance abuse program at the end of summer or early fall. Knight said there will be three to four therapists who are trained in mental health as well as substance abuse diagnoses.
“What we are focusing on now is a more holistic approach and dealing with the whole person versus just a substance abuse issue. Substance abuse is not usually done in a vacuum. There is something else that causes the need to use substances as a coping mechanism,” Knight said.
The substance abuse program will offer one-on-one counseling as well as group meetings.
Knight said a virtual open house to celebrate the new substance abuse offerings will be held soon.
BACHC will also be offering virtual psychoeducational groups focusing on stress management, selfcare, anxiety, depression and anger for its medical and dental clients to learn more about mental health offerings. By talking about some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety or stress management topics, those in the group can see what is offered and if they could benefit from the programming.
“We are also exploring ways to connect more through the community, whether it’s having a connection at the schools or at the emergency room or at other off-sites where people can engage with our services and find out what we do,” Knight said.
Most recently, Knight worked with Marines, sailors and their families with mental health issues in Okinawa, Japan for four years. He said the new position at BACHC sounded like a unique challenge and the opportunity to grow a strong department.