The bad news is that tough economic times continue to take a toll on area residents. The good news is that more and more of them are reaching out for help.
The office provides counseling for anyone who works, lives and worships in the Tri-Cities. Area residents are seeking help for depression, anxiety and grief.
Executive Director Sarah Lewakowski said the Tri-Cities Ministries Counseling office has gone from seeing 5-10 people each month a few years ago to between 50 and 100 a month today.
In 2011, the counseling center served nearly 740 men, women and children. About 51 percent didn’t have insurance covering counseling fees.
The agency provided more than $500,000 in mental health service on an $185,000 budget.
Most people are quick to seek help when they have a physical ailment. However, in years past, mental health illness was looked upon as a sign of weakness. Family and friends would tell the victim to just “pick yourself up by your boot straps and get on with it!”
Many thought that mental illness could be turned on or off by the patient.
We have since learned that isn’t the case.
Mental illness is serious and often more serious than other health issues and can lead to physical illness as well. Physical maladies often are easier to diagnose and treat than mental ailments.
Those suffering from stress, depression and other mental illnesses often are good at masking them, leaving family and friends and even doctors not really knowing that something is wrong.
Lewakowski said she reminds patients that they are not alone and they don’t have to feel that way. There is help.
We should all be thankful for agencies like Tri-Cities Ministries Counseling. And we should direct family members and friends in need of help to them.
And, if we are able, support the agencies financially.
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