PUEBLO — May is Mental Health Awareness month, and after one of the most strenuous years in history, the need for therapists is much higher than in the past.
“Historically, I think we’ve been turning away like 60 or 70 people a week for therapy, just because we didn’t have enough therapists, and this year we’ve turned away about 150 a week," said Regan Young, the CEO of A New Leaf Therapy in Pueblo.
A New Leaf Therapy is expanding by adding new building and getting creative with different services. The clinic will be offering Women's Equine Group Therapy, partnering with a local horse rescue. They are also launching a "Joy" group, intended to remind adults how to "play".
Kristin Brown, an Outpatient Therapist with the clinic, is spearheading "Teen Girls Nature Group", a group therapy to give girls ages 15 to 18 more confidence through nature beginning in the upcoming months. The therapists say teenagers are among those most effected by the restraints of the pandemic.
"Even just losing out on the typical prom that a Senior in High School would be able to have or graduation ceremonies, parties, so I mean yea there is a big dark part of COVID of death and loss in that way, but people are experiencing loss every day!" said Brown.
A bill under consideration in Colorado would reimburse providers for three mental health sessions offered to a young person, an effort prompted by COVID-19. Brown says when she first read the bill she was "so excited"!
"I think anytime we’re increasing access for mental health care, it creates a trickle down effect for the community… Children and teens are our future, so being able to support them through something like this is a beautiful thing!" said Brown.
Young noted she believes that in the middle of the pandemic, more people suffered from depression. However, as restrictions loosen, she has noticed more patients are anxious about going back to normal life.
“It did get so bad this year that a lot of people didn't have much of a choice. They had to do something about it!"
As a result, Young says "it became a societal norm" to talk about mental health issues.
“That’s the silver lining of the pandemic because it’s really been so normalized, I think. Therapy, it’s just looked at so differently. Like, who doesn’t need extra help during a pandemic!"
If you or anyone you know could benefit from the services A New Leaf Therapy has to offer, contact them here.