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Crisis center psychologists ready to help

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Everybody can be a little bit crazy.  Everybody can get a little bit stressed.  Everybody could use a little help now and then.

That’s why experts at the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center are amping up their mental health programs, beginning with two on-staff psychologists whose life work includes de-stigmatizing the issue.

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“Depression is not a shameful thing, anxiety is not a shameful thing, schizophrenia is not a shameful thing,” said Carolyn Klehr, a psychologist who works mainly with adult clients.

“Just like people should not be ashamed to have cancer because it’s something that’s happening to them biologically, people should also not be ashamed because they do not have enough neurotransmitters in their brain, and we all experience depression on some level.”

Klehr and fellow psychologist Renee Latterell have been working at the shelter since its new building opened in Detroit Lakes in 2011, and while their primary objective is to be there for more immediate trauma situations with residents coming in, they are also busy helping people throughout the community with every kind of mental health issue.

“We’re getting referrals from several different agencies in the area,” said Klehr, who specializes in child psychology, “We get them from the school, from Becker County and also a lot from like Red River Children’s Advocacy Center in Fargo that does forensic interviews for child sexual abuse,” said Latterell.

They are also taking walk-in clients and people who call needing help.

Although many of the patients they see come from the shelter, Klehr and Latterell say they are getting more and more calls from “the outside,” and they say that’s a good thing.

The psychologists are helping community members through the gamut of issues that face both adults and children.

“I see a range of kids whose parents who are divorced,” said Latterell, “Maybe the parent relationship is still highly conflicted. They see the mental health impact on the kids, and so they might bring them in and we can sort of show them how to cope with that.”

Surprisingly enough, Latterell says a fairly common reason young people (and adults) slip into depression or anxiety is because of their drive to succeed, as they devote too much of themselves to achievement.

“And so kids will wonder, ‘I get all A’s, I am succeeding in sports, so why am I sad? Why can’t I even get up anymore?’” said Latterell, “but it’s because they’ve pushed and pushed themselves until they’re depleted.  Their mind, body and spirit are all depleted, and their bodies are trying to tell them something.”

Latterell says over the years there has always been a “buzz” about one thing or another in the mental health field, whether it be a ADHD or autism, but as shiny ideas come and go, she says it’s important to keep talking about it and always try to have a holistic approach to helping people.

“The mind really does have an effect on your body and your body really does have an effect on  your mind,” she said, adding that with people, we are a culture within a culture within a culture.

“And here, that culture is more rural, and with that comes sort of that frontier spirit …  pick yourself up by the bootstraps and take care of yourself kind of attitude,” said Klehr, who says hiding mental health struggles make them far worse as they fester and people try to compensate for them with other destructive distractions.

“…like alcohol or using or even getting overly involved in your child’s sports or overly involved in anything,” said Klehr.

Talking about mental health issues is slowly becoming more socially acceptable, the experts say, and the fact that state leaders have pushed for policies that have paved the way for insurance companies to include mental health coverage has gone a long way in breaking down the barriers that would otherwise prevent people from seeking help.

Now, Klehr, Latterell and shelter advocates are stretching their outreach even further into the community, as they are creating several support groups.

Jan Logan, executive director for the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center, says they are working on getting a domestic violence survivors group, a domestic violence education group, an anger management group, a women’s empowerment group and more.

Although many of the groups will be held at the shelter, they are open to the public for whoever needs help.

Latterell will be bringing her expertise into the schools for group therapy with students who may benefit from the support during school hours.

“I think there’s a real benefit to being in a room and looking around and realizing that you’re not alone in your struggle,” said Latterell, “Kids in particular, you elevate motivation and self-esteem by having that shared experience.”

People who are struggling with any aspect of mental health and who are interested in a support group are encouraged to call the Lakes Crisis Center.

“Because we want to keep track of what kind of groups people might be needing and what they might be willing to attend,” said Latterell.

For more information on mental health support or on a support group, call the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center at 218-847-8572.

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