Faith-based partnerships help connect people with counseling

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GREENFIELD — Options are expanding locally for those who want to find mental health care close to home, including those who hope to find it in a faith-based environment.

Wellspring Center is partnering with NewDay, a counseling center with sites in Indianapolis and Noblesville, to offer clinical counseling sessions with a licensed counselor onsite in Greenfield.

Wellspring Executive Director Gina Colclazier said Brandywine Community Church, where Wellspring is housed, offered spaces for sessions. Sessions began there last fall; most are for substance abuse and/or mental health concerns. Appointments happen a few days a week over a few hours’ worth of time slots. NewDay accepts health insurance and Medicaid.

“With Wellspring, our goal is really to help eliminate barriers for people to getting care,” Colclazier said. “We see a barrier of people getting quality care, holistic care that does involve that spiritual piece for people who want that,” even though people who are not interested in that spiritual component can still receive care.

Lori Burns, executive vice president of NewDay, said it’s been great to partner toward offering affordable sessions in Greenfield.

“One of the reasons why we love the partnership with Brandywine … (is) I would say the biggest barrier (to care) a lot of times is cost,” she said. “Being able to be in their building drives our costs down.”

She said she’s been impressed with the culture of partnership in Greenfield among churches and other parts of the community.

“Brandywine, and actually Greenfield as a whole … this community really wants to help their people.”

Wellspring Center formed several years ago and has sought to help people in need through support groups, a food pantry and referrals to other community resources. It’s an added benefit now, Colclazier said, to be able to connect people in need of mental health care to “clinicians who care for the mind and body in the way they were trained.”

Wellspring received a grant from the Center for Congregations, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. CFC launched its Mental Health Initiative and has a cohort of organizations in 29 Indiana counties, including Hancock, who received grants. Congregations in the state’s remaining counties in the north and south were invited to apply earlier this year for the next cohort.

The initiative is “designed to assist Indiana congregations in addressing mental health and wellness among their members,” according to the CFC website, centerforcongregations.org. “This opportunity includes educational sessions and a grant of up to $40,000 to fund expenses and activities that support mental health programming in congregations.”

Many local churches offer support groups related to grief, addiction and other topics. Some also seek to connect people with more formalized clinical mental health care.

For example, Zion Lutheran Church in New Palestine has a banner out front “Now Open … Christian Counseling Center,” with a “Counseling Center” tab on the church website. It leads to a place to book an appointment with a counselor who holds a master’s degree in clinical counseling and psychotherapy. Also, Mercy Road Church Northeast in Fortville partners with a therapist who offers office hours at the church one day a week.

“If you don’t have positive mental health, then physical health and spiritual health will fall in the same category,” said the Rev. Markus Dennis, pastor of Riley Friends Church, who has led groups in recovery and advocated for mental health measures. “… Mental health is a part of spiritual health.”