DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – A mental health care provider based in Cedar Rapids is expanding its services to northeast Iowa.
Covenant Family Solutions opened its new mental health clinic in Dubuque on Thursday. Staff say the goal is to meet an increasing need for those services.
Staff at Covenant Family Solutions point to recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to explain why it is important to increase access to brain health services in eastern Iowa. That data reveals, for example, that Iowa ranks 44th in the nation in the ratio of mental health providers to residents. Staff also mentioned there are less than two mental health providers available to serve every 1,000 people in the state.
“For us, this is all about increasing access,” CEO Jacob Christenson said. “So we know that the people of Iowa are underserved when it comes to mental health, so we are trying our best to extend services wherever we can. That is why we are moving into Dubuque.”
Covenant’s new clinic is starting small, with two mental health therapists. One of them is Blair Birkett.
“We have been preparing for this moment for a long time,” she confessed. “Me personally I have been waiting for another really great mental health organization to come to the Dubuque location because there is just not a lot of resources here.”
For her, this is personal. Both her and the clinic’s other mental health therapist are Dubuque natives. Birkett said she knows first hand what the need in the area is, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There has been a lot of anxiety and depression, especially from the isolation,” she explained. “I have worked in the schools and I see it in the elementary kids and the middle school population as well.”
Birkett said the idea behind the clinic is to create a sense of comfort and familiarity within the office by including things like yoga and play therapy into the sessions.
“Having that felt safety is really important, so we always try to be the most authentic person when greeting our clients,” she mentioned. “We bring a sense of humor to meeting with people because this is really heavy stuff, and not like we are making light of the situation, but we want people to feel comfortable and safe to communicate with us.”
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