By Marcella Shandor —

The University of Louisville has options for those who may be struggling with mental wellness, but sometimes the counseling services aren’t always available for students.

There are community options available if you know where to look.

One of the resources in Louisville is Bridgehaven Mental Health Services, which is a psychological rehab program that specializes in group therapy. They provide outpatient group and individual therapy, peer group and individual therapy, and therapeutic rehabilitation which helps people with daily living and interaction. They also provide comprehensive community support where they meet people out in the community.

Chief Operating Officer of Bridgehaven Stewart Bridgman said Bridgehaven typically serves those that have Medicaid but they have some grant funding as well. He said that most people should be able to qualify for some insurance, but private insurance doesn’t always pay for the services they offer.

Bridgman said there are less resources for inpatient treatment.

“The only way you are going to get admitted to the hospital for a mental health diagnosis is if you are suicidal or homicidal,” Bridgman said.

He said that sometimes it is frustrating because mental health patients need help early on and it is just not there.

“It’s difficult to enter the system when someone needs ongoing care and doesn’t know where to begin,” he said.

Bridgman said the Louisville chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is an active and welcoming community that is a free resource for those who seek an ongoing support group.

He said there are so many places who want to help that people should not feel bad for reaching out and seeking help.

Centerstone is a behavioral health organization that works with children to adults with mental illness. It offers a sliding scale fee based on income and takes Medicaid as well as private insurance. The organization also is available to help those who are eligible obtain Kentucky State Medicaid.
Centerstone Marketing Director Gloria Berry said that there is a 24-hour crisis and information center at (502) 589-4313 if someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts. Berry said they have several crisis mobile assessment teams that will come to a person that is struggling.

“The phone counselors are trained at assessing the level of suicidal risk. They will get their name and address to ensure safety,” Berry said.

Berry said to offer to call the crisis center with those who are feeling suicidal so they don’t have to do it on their own after asking questions about their thoughts.

Co-founder and Clinical Director of Bridge Counseling and Wellness Nicole Sartini-Cprek said the most common style of therapy used in Kentucky is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This therapy focuses on helping individuals become better “supervisors” of their brains. The idea is to identify and shift thoughts that may be holding back the individual.

“Most of our therapists at Bridge add another layer to this traditional style by using mindfulness in connection with CBT. Mindfulness is much more than being aware and present,” Sartini-Cprek said.

“It is about learning to be more comfortable with that which is uncomfortable rather than having the illusion that we can avoid it entirely and thus causing ourselves increased suffering.”

Bridge Counseling and Wellness offers art therapy, hypnotherapy, ecotherapy and yoga therapy as well. These are less common but equally effective styles depending on an individual’s unique circumstances and preferences.

“We have a sliding scale therapist who is able to see folks for $50/session on Mondays and are committed to helping connect any person who calls us with a referral for someone who can help with the means they have available to them if $50 is too much for them to pay,” Sartini-Cprek said.

Nancy Brooks, Executive Director of the Louisville Chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), said that NAMI offers free resources for students or anyone struggling with depression or other forms of mental illness. NAMI offers several classes and reaches out to other groups for the student depending on their specific need.

“NAMI is very proactive and our goal is to get in front of the crisis situation,” Brooks said.

She said the NAMI is very interested in forming a relationship with the University of Louisville. NAMI offers a free program that Brooks would like to see on campus.

“NAMI Louisville is presently working on creating NAMI on Campus Chapters that work with students to bring awareness to mental health concerns, provide support, leadership opportunities and engagement and education for students interested in reducing the present saturation of mental health concerns in their community,” Brooks said.

“Perhaps we can get a chapter started at U of L where NAMI Louisville will provide key programming and support of our group as you help us build the bridge to hope that is needed to address the mental health of our present youth and future leaders.”

Graphic by Arry Schofield / The Louisville Cardinal