Donation-based Counseling Center Moves Location, Expands Services | WGLT

Donation-based Counseling Center Moves Location, Expands Services

Aug 8, 2018

A counseling center providing service for the poor and uninsured in Bloomington has a new location with room for additional counseling opportunities.

INtegRIty counseling moved only slightly from its original location. Co-Founder Don Mahannah said the move gives them more space to make a difference in the community.

"We're calling this moving two doors down to double our space and double our impact," Don Mahannah said.

The New Space

Don Mahannah said the former location provided fewer rooms, which confined their range of practice. After the move, INtegRIty has six rooms dedicated to counseling, with added space for client mentoring, art therapy, and a break room.

"We have a dedicated room now that has the ability to be both counseling for adults and counseling for children. So having a space that allows us to do that is very nice to have," Don Mahannah said.

The Blue Room at INtegRIty Counseling. Each room is named for the color of its furniture.
Credit Mary Cullen / WGLT

"In the space that we had before, we didn't have any place that we could really do family counseling or have groups other than our front lobby, and if we were to use it that way we'd have to do it after hours," INtegRIty Co-Founder Luella Mahannah said.

Group therapy allows for a different dynamic than individual counseling, Luella Mahannah said. INtegRIty has already held some family group counseling sessions in their new facility.

"When you have group therapy, first of all you build your support system. People usually at least connect with people while they are at group, they have people that have similar concerns and find out that they're not the only ones that have those concerns," Luella Mahannah said.

She said INtegRIty hopes to have scheduled group sessions up and running by next month.

“The rooms themselves are laid out kind of like a family room. Trying to be not clinical, but comfortable. Because when people can come and experience a bit of comfort that's physical, then they can relax and be able to to talk about their issues," Don Mahannah said.

Luella Mahannah said returning clients who have seen the new facility are pleased with the new facility.

"We can really tell that they feel like they're in a warm and caring environment," she said. "I think our new clients as well are coming in and saying, 'Oh this is a nice place.' And they feel very welcomed here. So I think that as much as anything, we're reaching our goal doing that."

Don Mahannah agreed, adding the new space presents a professional but warm atmosphere which builds confidence in clients that they will receive the help they need.

"They walk in and see, 'Oh they have their act together, and they have a beautiful space,' and that gives them confidence I think that they will be able to be helped here," he said.

Services

INtegRIty provides individual counseling for all ages, as well as group, family, and couples counseling.

Luella Mahannah said the new facility also includes space for what she calls the MVP Room.

"A lot of times when a child comes to counseling, they're scared. Their mom or dad is saying, you know, 'You need counseling,' and children are often scared. They have to talk to a stranger and how are they supposed to open up," Luella Mahannah said.

Luella Mahannah sits in INtegRIty Counseling's MVP Room July 31, 2018.
Credit Mary Cullen / WGLT

The MVP Room helps address that problem, she said. The room is fully stocked with games for kids and counselors to play.

"Usually what happens is counselors can kind of check in about their issues while they're playing a game and can actually provide some coping mechanisms at the same time," Luella Mahannah said. "It's a cool thing for kids to have."

History

Don Mahannah said INtegRIty started as a response to mental health issues surrounding the county jail

"Luella and I talked about well what can we do to make a difference,” Don Mahannah said. “And we thought that trying to have a significant access to mental health services for people who were uninsured or underinsured would make a difference in stopping the slide towards the jail. And also just giving that ability to stabilize families and individuals who were having difficulty.”

INtegRIty served 1,500 clients in 2017. Don Mahannah said their goal is to double the number of appointments by the end of 2019.

In addition to their client goal, Don and Luella Mahannah have put together a "vision team" to set specific yearly goals for the center. Included in those goals is reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and partnering with local organizations to provide counseling services to those in need.

Funding

INtegRIty’s website says “McLean County offers limited mental health options.” Don and Luella Mahannah said their goal was to provide services to those who felt they had nowhere else to turn for help.

"We know that some of the local state funded centers are really only able to now take on the very hardest cases–the ones that people are either homicidal or suicidal or just very chronic. They would like to be able to see more people themselves, but unfortunately they are just limited in their availability to see clients," Luella Mahannah said.

She said INtegRIty is able to fill that gap because they are entirely donation based, not state funded.

"We do ask our clients to contribute what they can. We'll never turn anyone away for a financial reason. And some people are very proud to give us a dollar every third session, and some people write us a very nice check for what they would have spent in a deductible or other arrangement or because they think it's the right thing for them to do," Don Mahannah said.

He said clients provide about half of INtegRIty's operating costs. The rest comes from donations from individuals, groups, churches, and clubs.

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