Lake Superior Community Health Center last week announced the hiring of three new therapists, a move that should improve local access to mental health services.

"We are opening the doors for new therapy patients," said Betsy Byler, director of outpatient behavioral health and substance abuse services.

Anyone on the waiting list will be getting a call from the center, according to Byler. If they haven't heard from the center, or if their number has changed recently, they are encouraged to call intake coordinator Mel Whittington at 715-395-5381 or the front desk at 715-395-5380 to set up an appointment time.

"My hope is that we will be able to serve adults, families and children in the whole county," Byler said.

With the new hires, the nonprofit, federally qualified health center now has nine available therapists, all of whom can take Medicaid patients. The center aims to whittle down the wait list and respond quicker to those who call for appointments.

Future plans include expanding to serve all schools in the county. To facilitate that, the center is seeking to hire a children's therapist.

"We are still recruiting for a child therapist and we are also working on training some of our current therapists to see younger children," Byler said.

Local need, support

Employees of Douglas County and the city of Superior targeted mental health needs with their most recent lunch fundraiser. The Halloween-themed event raised $600 for National Alliance on Mental Illness Douglas County (NAMI).

Twice a year, the employees gather to share food, fun and give to a local cause. NAMI Douglas County was chosen in part because both the city and county have recently dealt with employee suicides relating to mental health issues, according to organizers.

NAMI's mission is to provide support, education and advocacy to individuals and families affected by mental illness. It offers a Peer Support Group for those who live with a mental illness and a Family Support Group for families and friends who have loved ones living with mental illness. No registration is required.

The Peer Support Group meets from 5:30-7 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month in the community room of Essentia-St. Mary's Superior, 3500 Tower Ave. Contact Chrissy, 920-452-5152 or ChrissyBarnard22@gmail.com, or Gen, 218-393-5499 or genmar2817@gmail.com, for information.

The Family Support Group meets from 5:30-7 p.m. the first Monday of each month at the Challenge Center, 39 N. 25th St. E. Contact Nancy, 715-398-6471 or nancyminahan@gmail.com, for information.

Visit namidouglascountywi.org or email namidouglascountywi@gmail.com to learn more.