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Catching Up with Meagan Martin MS, LMFT: Spotlight on NeighborHealth’s Behavioral Health Program

Published by
Rich Kells
at
March 19, 2024

The 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in Wake County identified behavioral health access as a top concern for local residents. According to the report, 39.5% of respondents feel there are not enough mental health providers in the community. 

As a part of NeighborHealth’s focus on patient-centered medical care, and in response to this community need, we have three Behavior Health providers on staff. This is a unique feature of our clinic. We aim to serve our patients as well as confront the ongoing stigma around mental health. We provide more than 2,000 Behavioral Health & Counseling patient visits annually.
 

Improving Access to Behavioral Health: A Q&A With NeighborHealth’s Meagan Martin

Meagan Martin, MS, LMFT

Q: Why is it important to raise awareness about mental health in minority communities?
A: 
We see so many patients from diverse cultures here at NeighborHealth, and the stigma and misconceptions around seeking help are very real in many communities. Patients tell me all the time that they don’t talk about these issues in their cultures or families, and I like to remind them that it’s OK to open up about mental health.  I take the opportunity to listen to the patient’s concerns and help them find the words to express those feelings in a way that is both meaningful and helpful to them. For example, instead of saying they’re suffering from anxiety, patients may say “I’ve been feeling really stressed,” when in some cases, there’s a more serious problem that we can help address. It’s our job as behavioral health providers to be mindful of language differences and help patients express their needs using words that make sense to them. Having the opportunity to give my patients the space to talk about mental health in their way is powerful, and it’s a gift to help when we can. 

Q: Tell us about the behavioral health services offered here at NeighborHealth.
A:
 We’re proud to have a growing program at NeighborHealth to serve our patients with behavioral health needs. Currently, we have two options for our patients who need access to therapy services. The first is our traditional counseling, which is where our team will work with a patient who might be struggling with depression, anxiety, isolation, or whatever behavioral concerns may be impacting their quality of life. Sessions are generally 45-50 minutes and we take that opportunity to talk with patients in detail about what’s going on in their lives and get to know them on a personal level. 

“…I like to think of these sessions as helping patients unpack a heavy backpack—my job is to create a space where they feel safe enough to remove the bag and unpack it—one item at a time, which leaves them feeling lighter over the course of our sessions.” 

—Meagan Martin, MS, LMFT

We also offer an integrated care consultation – which is a brief appointment (15-20 minutes) that takes place the same day as their medical appointment. During these sessions, we help start some important conversations around mental health that will help us determine if the patient is a good candidate for counseling here, or if they would benefit from another type of support in the community.  In either setting, we try to provide real coping skills our patients can put into daily practice – whether it’s breathing techniques, tools for better sleep, etc. 
 
Q: Are you seeing an increased demand for behavioral health services in your practice?
A: 
Yes, absolutely. There are so few resources in the community to help patients with behavioral health needs, and even fewer that are affordable for patients without insurance. We have seen a significant increase in demand. We have a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who can help provide both integrated care and traditional counseling appointments to better serve the patients of NeighborHealth. Our long-term goal is to add more providers and perhaps consider adding psychiatry to the services we offer. Our goal is just to help as many patients as we possibly can. 
 
To support NeighborHealth’s growing behavioral health program, please consider donating to NeighborHealth. All funds raised will support the continued expansion of NeighborHealth as we aim to meet the growing healthcare needs of our community. 
 

Serving Christ by loving our neighbors through excellent,
compassionate, and accessible health care.

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NeighborHealth Center, Inc. (NHC), is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 agency founded to meet the healthcare needs of the underserved in the Raleigh area.