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Nonprofits helping to fill mental health services gap in northwest ND

WILLISTON, N.D.--Nonprofits seem to be responding to a deficit of mental health services in the northwest North Dakota region by offering a range of options, including walk-in hours and counseling for even the youngest of clients.

WILLISTON, N.D.-Nonprofits seem to be responding to a deficit of mental health services in the northwest North Dakota region by offering a range of options, including walk-in hours and counseling for even the youngest of clients.

Summit Counseling Services opened its doors in the spring of 2015, and since then has nearly doubled its staff. It has offices in Williston and Watford City.

The group's range of services includes help with depression and anxiety, behavioral issues in children, couples therapy and outpatient programs for addiction.

"It's been a little difficult for us to get the word out that we're here... but people are very grateful we're here, we're getting good feedback about the quality of services we have," therapist Brenda Owen, who created the agency after working for the state in Williston, said.

Walk-in clinics on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon offer a chance for on-the-spot drug and alcohol evaluations, along with immediate attention for other mental health concerns, she added.

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Owen hopes to expand by opening a residential treatment center that will include crisis beds for people needing immediate help with substance abuse. Such a facility does not exist in the Williston area, and creating it will necessitate collaboration with investors.

"It's a big undertaking, but we believe that we can do it," she said. "We're doing what we can and I think we've been very successful so far."

Summit Counseling's Watford City office is also staffed by therapists and licensed addiction counselors.

Also in Williston, Maggie Bohannon, a counselor with the Village Family Service Center, now sees people here once a week after the nonprofit, which has locations across North Dakota and Minnesota, expanded its services to Williston.

Bohannon, whose local office opened less than two weeks ago, is already working with several clients.

"It didn't take any time at all to get a response from people and have them start taking advantages of services," she said.

She describes herself as a generalist, and sees people suffering from depression, anxiety, existential issues related to age or employment status, trauma and other issues.

Bohannon is in Williston on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 120 Washington Ave. She suggests calling the Village Family Service Center's Fargo or Minot office to schedule an appointment.

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Another nonprofit-Lutheran Social Services- works with many people who are referred to their services by court order and the group's Abound program offers counseling by appointment, and via telemedicine.

"We've got counselors all over the state that we can access," Peggy Bearce of the Williston office said.

A licensed counselor began working in the Williston office last fall, she added.

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