New clinic increases access to mental health services in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Behavioral Health Innovation and Dissemination Center (BHIDC) at the University of Utah has added another mental health resource for the community.

BHIDC’s new mental health clinic is located in the Carolyn and Kem Gardner Commons building at the University of Utah, just south of the Olpin Union Building, where Utah Transit Authority buses wait for their stopover.

According to Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit organization that works to meet mental health needs in the United States, Utah ranks 38 in overall access to mental health resources in the country.

The aim of the new BHIDC clinic is to address the problem of the lack of access to mental health resources in the state.

The U Department of Psychology has run volunteer clinics in the past. BHIDC co-directors Feea Leifker and Brian Baucom say the free clinics have helped assess the need for more services despite the number of providers already available.

“The waiting lists were long,” said Baucom. “They filled up very quickly. “

Leifker said there was “a real need” for services in the community which offered the same as free clinics, but on “a very minimal scale and for an affordable option.”

The new clinic also allows students in U’s psychotherapy training programs to register necessary clinical hours. As part of their education, students in social work, counseling, and other psychological and psychiatric careers new to clinical practice which, according to Baucom, is essential.

“There was no way for the students to benefit from all the expertise that was in departments other than their own,” says Baucom. “We wanted to help graduate students access training that they didn’t have access to before.

The new clinic is accessible to everyone in Utah, whether for in-person counseling or telehealth. However, the clinic is not part of the U of U health system.

For the moment, the center will have 20 providers but the number could fluctuate over time. About half of the providers are from the psychology department and the other half are medical students. A faculty member supervises the training staff.

Care is offered on a sliding scale of $ 20 to $ 120 per session depending on the client’s personal income and the therapist’s level of training. It is not necessary to have insurance to benefit from the services of the clinic. Even then, the clinic does not take any insurance, so those who seek help do not feel overwhelmed by the lack of confidence.

The clinic also aims to complement, but not duplicate, what other mental health resources already have available. They also work with University Neighborhood Partners, which serves western Salt Lake City neighborhoods, the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services, and the Fraternal Order of Police to build relationships with local agencies.

The specialized services offered by the clinic include the treatment of children with tic disorder, trichotillomania (a hair-pulling disorder) and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Baucom says she hopes to offer group therapy sessions and expand their services in this way.

Likewise, the clinic will provide students with the opportunity to conduct clinical research on the effectiveness of treatment methods.

“We are able to monitor the results and test emerging treatments to see if they are effective in the populations we are working to serve,” said Leifker. Clients who choose to participate in clinical research will receive their treatment free of charge.

“We offer these evidence-based treatments that, to date, are not so frequently available in Utah,” said Leifker.

To learn more about the new clinic and its services, click on here.

To learn more about BHIDC, click on here.

About Evelyn C. Heim

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