Karen Ehlmann, Clinic Manager and Mark Norwine, Counselor at Volunteers in Medicine Saint Charles met with Dispensary of Hope to discuss the impact of Mental Health treatment as a core element of a patient’s overall health.
May is Mental Health Month, so we want to talk about how to change Mental Health stigma, with that in mind... If you could say one phrase to somebody who might be considering seeking help, what would that be?
Mark: It’s not unusual to seek counseling. Counseling is virtually for everybody. Everybody will need counseling at some point in their life. We all have a point in our life when we need help. It may be a check-in, short-term or even long-term counseling. Everyone has specific and unique needs. Knowing that someone is available and that someone cares, really makes a difference in a person’s life.
Have you noticed a difference in patient volume and mix when it comes to Mental Health in the past 12 months?
Mark: Yes, volume of counseling appointments has doubled in the past year. COVID has had an affect. The clinic has been relatively slow, but mental health appointments have risen steadily.
Karen Ehlmann, Clinic Manager and Mark Norwine, Counselor at Volunteers in Medicine Saint Charles
Are the majority of the patients that you see typically in need of help for more than one condition?
Karen: Every patient comes to see a primary care doctor, so all of them are managing some chronic condition(s) from diabetes, heart disease to lung disease. Knowing the patient’s needs and having counseling available for them is crucial to helping them.
How has access to medicine from Dispensary of Hope helped you serve the patients in your community?
Karen: In the past, the doctor might talk to them a little bit and prescribe an antidepressant. Before Dispensary of Hope, we had to pay for the medication from a partner pharmacy. Having Dispensary of Hope adds an abundance of meds that we didn’t have before. Access to medication and an onsite counselor really helps ensure that we can provide for the whole health of the patient.
Is there anything else that you want to add, maybe a question that hasn't been asked?
Mark: I refer to patients as clients and I am thoroughly impressed with our clients. I really like them and truly care about them. They are very respectful of my boundaries, as a counselor. They have access to my contact information, but they do not abuse that at all. I do think that’s a result of our mutual respect and care for each other, and It has a significant impact on our community.