The Brother Bill’s Helping Hand Community Clinic has seen a recent rise of over 14% in patients struggling with anxiety and depression. In the beginning of the year, 17% of patients faced anxiety and/or depression. Now, the number is 26% and growing.
Kim Mendoza, Lead Medical Assistant, and Vanessa Garza, Clinic Coordinator, field hundreds of calls per week from potential patients. “You can tell how a patient is feeling by their tone,” Kim shares. “We assess a patient’s needs over the phone and direct them to schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with one of our professional counselors.” Our partnership with The Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology allows us to provide counseling for children, teens, and adults covering topics such as depression, anxiety, and trauma; relationships; emotional health; parenting; and school-related issues. Right now, the first topic is heavily emphasized.
There are a myriad of reasons behind the deteriorating wellness of our neighbors, although none can fully explain the complexity of mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to mandated shelter-at-home, which causes an increase in worldwide domestic violence and loneliness. Neighbors have lost jobs, which leads to financial struggle and is not alleviated by the stimulus check (which some neighbors may not have received given their citizenship status). Mass media incites fear, as testified by a 60-year-old neighbor who is now terrified to leave his home. And the recent outrage over racial injustice, although necessary and overdue, does not ease the fear from our neighbors.
Ivan Esquivel, Clinic Manager and Baylor Scott & White representative, predicts an even bigger rise in the coming months. “[The issues of today affect] the people we serve. Anxiety might be even higher than it was before.”
Kim, Lead Medical Assistant, shares her own nuanced perspective:
“As a mother and a Hispanic, saying that you are dealing with anxiety or depression is hard. Our culture doesn’t always embrace counseling.”
However, the mental health cases are not without hope. Ivan explains that the Clinic has seen improvement in patients with a two-pronged approach: medication and one-on-one counseling. He cites that counseling is a powerful tool, as “patients see that they are not alone, and that they can relate to us and don’t have to be embarrassed.” Whether a patient is uncomfortable with counseling in English, telecounseling because of listening ears at home, or conversely, counseling in person because of the pandemic, our counselors can accommodate their needs.
The three pillars of our mission are education, health, and essentials of life. As mental and physical health dominate the needs of our neighbors, the BBHH team is responding with our utmost capacity.
To learn more about the Clinic’s mental health services or schedule an appointment, please visit https://bbhh.org/mental-health-services.