Shodair Children’s Hospital has been in Montana since 1896. In 2021 they opened a new outpatient clinic in Bozeman with the goal of bringing mental access closer to areas of the state that are underserved.
“Before they would have to either find a provider in their community, which is difficult in Montana because there are just not a lot, or commute to Helena to access those services,” said Sierra Meek, primary therapist at the Bozeman Outpatient Clinic.
Ninety-nine percent of Shodair’s patients are from Montana and their goal is to keep patients from having to travel to other nearby states for care. Shodair aims to bring those resources to where the people are.
“The exciting things about this clinic opening in Bozeman and Gallatin County because it effectively expands access,” said Ben Egbers, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Bozeman’s Outpatient Clinic.
By shifting to more outpatient services they hope to provide better access to the community and to engage with the needs of the community they serve.
“We talk to our communities in Montana and say, 'where do we need to be, what would be helpful?' We're not just coming in here and plopping in our clinic and saying that's it,” says Meek.
With the pandemic, more and more people began to talk more about the importance of mental health and how to stay mentally healthy.
“I've noticed with our younger kids that it's just so much easier to talk about mental health, especially with social media,” says Meek.
Even though the resurgence of COVID-19 has kept patients out of the Bozeman clinic, they have managed a way to get creative and come to those who need help.
“I've actually seen patients from all over Montana given the fact that I have been using telehealth technology,” said Egbers.
What Shodair also hopes is to provide a starting point when it comes to where and how to get access to mental health services.
“I think parents are lost, they don't know what to do, asking the questions and being okay to ask the questions,” said Meek. “Our goal is to help as many people in this state as we can. There is such a lack of services, especially for our kiddos.”
“If you are struggling in any way with mental health, I would absolutely encourage everyone to reach out to their primary care provider, or they can reach out to us directly,” Egber said.
Below is a list of mental health resources in Montana.
Shodair's Website: https://shodair.org/
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Montana Suicide Prevention: Text 'MT' to 741-741
Montana Health Department: Dial 2-1-1
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Website: dphhs.mt.gov/amdd/index