Find out more on the MilMag Facebook livestream on Dec. 13 at noon.
From December 2019 to December 2020, Children’s Wisconsin saw an 80% increase in referrals for outpatient mental health services. This is just one indicator of the toll on mental health that the COVID-19 pandemic, and its consequent stay-at-home orders and virtual schooling, has had on young people in Milwaukee.
“When you’re working with a youth, you’re not just working with the youth,” says Crystal Simpson, the behavioral health clinic manager at Outreach Community Health Centers. “It takes a village.”
Outreach is one of only three Wisconsin providers of Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), an intensive family therapy which requires extensive training, and is proven to reduce depression, anxiety and substance abuse while also increasing school attendance. Using this method, therapists work not only with the young person, but also with the adults who care about them – family members and others, like coaches, case managers and school counselors. The goal is to work closely with loved ones to support the young person, who over a six month period receives two or three therapy sessions a week.
“It is very effective, but costly because much of the activity required is not billable through most insurance,” says Greg Schoeneck, the supervisor of Outreach’s Youth and Family team. By providing comprehensive therapy to the whole family unit, “we’re more effective than out-of-home placement for substance abuse,” he says, “because typically they need more support [after returning home].”
As a Federally Qualified Health Center, Outreach runs many programs beyond MDFT. It offers accessible and affordable medical care, dental services and behavioral health treatment for Milwaukeeans regardless of their insurance status, including the city’s homeless population. Outreach also invests in health education to promote screenings and vaccinations. And its work branches out to other projects, such as a recent partnership with Messmer High School to create a series of videos sharing strategies for coping with anxiety. “Our goal is always ‘How can we support individuals in the community?’” Schoeneck says.
What We Do:
- Outreach Community Health Centers provides medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral and community services such as transportation vouchers, household furnishings and food, to people lacking adequate health insurance, including the homeless.
- Outreach helps pregnant women by ensuring they have access to medical care, appropriate supplies and equipment, safe housing and the emotional support they need to deliver healthy babies.
Where Your Money Goes:
- Outreach does not turn away anyone seeking services, regardless of their ability to pay. The organization relies on private donations and grant money to provide services at low cost or free of charge.
210 W. Capitol Dr.