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Mental health urgent care center opens in Everett

EVERETT — The Providence Medical Group recently opened an outpatient behavioral health clinic and its founders have a dream: that the stigma of mental health care will someday be gone.
“For me it’s the absolute elimination of stigma” of mental health illnesses and care, said Laura Knapp, a licensed social worker for Providence. One in five people will struggle with mental health in their lifetime, she said, and that number “is probably underreported.”
Knapp facilitates a program co-located with emergency room care at Providence, for adults 18 and over who need behavioral health intervention. The new Behavioral Health Urgent Care is located in the Providence Medical Office Building, 1330 Rockefeller Ave., Ste. 140. It is accepting walk-in behavioral health patients Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Patients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis. No appointment is necessary.
The department helps navigate resources for patients with ongoing mental ailments such as anxiety and depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, as well as situational mental health problems such as new divorces or a personal crises, Knapp said.
Patients may be screened for depression, connected to long-term resources, prescribed medications, referred to other help and assisted with the navigation of resources.
“We screen for depression at every visit,” she said, and the treatment is not always medication.
Studies show that exercise is an effective element in caring for depression and anxiety. Knapp said she envisions a day when there is a therapist at the gym.
Resetting the narrative to equalize mental and physical healthcare as normal is a goal, as is increasing access to care, Knapp said. Challenges to care can include language barriers, lack of insurance and illiteracy. The department helps with those issues.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, she said, some people could not access help, because of lack of insurance. Now, people with low incomes can obtain insurance through the ACA, but there can be a gap for those with higher incomes. She said the clinic offers payment plans and financial counseling to assure that everyone has access to care.
“What I love about urgent care is we’ll see anybody,” she said.
The clinic is made up of a multidisciplinary team including psychiatric nurse practitioners, a social worker, a substance use disorder professional, a peer counselor, and a patient care specialist who manages the front desk. That mix of providers, including the front desk, is essential, Knapp said.
“It’s important to me that every interaction come from a trauma-informed perspective,” she said, noting that the culture “feels very calm.”
Patients can access psychiatric consultation, medication, and learn of community partnerships and services.
As part of the mission for Providence, the clinic is committed to “increasing access to behavioral health care while eliminating the stigma surrounding this disease.”
Knapp hopes for early intervention in depression, before a person gets to the point of suicidal actions. She said antidepressants are not always the go-to treatment. Some patients are better served with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, or other treatments
that address thought patterns leading to and triggered by depression.
“We talk about behavioral health activation,” she said. CBT is one of the evidence-based practices that can help lift and regulate moods. Most people, she said, “believe all of our thoughts are accurate,” but depressive thoughts are dark. CBT can help shed light on the thoughts that are not accurate, and may lead to emotional pain.
She said depression tends to make people lose interest in doing the things that they love to do, which can deplete moods as well.
According to a recently completed healthy youth survey, there is a high rate of serious depression among youth that is worsening, she said, making the focus of the clinic timely.  Even with the clinic so new, and in its second week, Knapp is hopeful that the availability of drop-in behavioral health care sends a message that will be heard by other care providers.
“My hope is that this is something that can be replicated,” she said.   
For more information, call the clinic at 425-261-4210.  



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