Common concerns: Mental health services available

WORTHINGTON -- As April draws to a close, so does Counseling Awareness Month, which in 2016 carried the theme "Better Together With Counseling."Professional counselors in the region emphasize that people facing problems of various kinds shouldn't...

WORTHINGTON - As April draws to a close, so does Counseling Awareness Month, which in 2016 carried the theme “Better Together With Counseling.”
Professional counselors in the region emphasize that people facing problems of various kinds shouldn’t see the need for counseling services as a stigma.
“These are equal opportunity conditions,” said Scott Johnson, executive director of Southwestern Mental Health Center, which serves a five-county area.
“Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time and they shouldn’t be ignored; people tend to wait too long to get help.”
But sometimes, that’s exactly what happens.
“One of the biggest barriers is that many people think they have to be ‘crazy’ to seek counseling, and that’s just not the case,” assured Kristin Walerius, executive director of Rising Hope Ministries.
“Counseling encompasses a broad scope of issues, and it can be needed for anything from help communicating with parents to dealing with school problems and on up to more severe mental illnesses,” Walerius observed.
“But really, it’s about maintaining mental health rather than simply addressing illness.
“If you have a broken leg, you visit a doctor to get it fixed, and it’s the same thing with mental health; if you have something going on with your mental health, you want to get that fixed, as well, and counselors can help.”
Sadly, delays in seeking help can exacerbate certain mental health conditions, Johnson explained.
“Oftentimes, that’s how people get into trouble, because a problem can get more serious when you wait,” Johnson said.
“Unfortunately, people can wait for years and years to get help for obsessive/compulsive disorders, for example.”
Within the greater Worthington area, Southwestern Mental Health Services offers services with professional staff (including psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical counselors, social workers and outpatient therapists, among other certified professionals) available for appointments in Worthington, Luverne, Pipestone, Windom and Jackson.
For Walerius, a counselor in private practice in Worthington, helping others is what makes her job rewarding.
“When a client learns the skills to deal with whatever is going on in their lives, that’s really satisfying to me,” said Walerius.
“Depression and anxiety are so common, but a lot of people either don’t recognize them as problems or push them away, but a few coping skills can make a big difference really quickly for individuals.”
Just how common are mental health conditions?
“One in five adults will be affected in their lifetimes with something that would respond to counseling,” listed Johnson.
“That’s 20 percent of the population; various forms of mental illness are second only to heart disease as a cause of disability and death.”
Above all, Counseling Awareness Month sends the message that help is available to people who may be struggling from any number of mental health challenges.
Urged Walerius, “Don’t delay; reach out to someone who is qualified and capable of helping.”

For mental health support in the Worthington area, contact the Southwestern Mental Health Center at 507-376- 4141or visit for more information and locations.
Additionally, Southwestern Mental Health Center has a Mobile Mental Health Crisis Response Service that is linked to a 24-hour mental health hotline: 800-642-1525. A “Text for Life” service is also available and may appeal particularly to younger people: text the word “LIFE” to 61222 for a text conversation with trained responders.
Appointments with Risin g Hope Ministries may be made by calling 329-6036.

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