The team of professional counselors who make up Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) Family Life Counseling Services (FLCS) are committed to meeting the specific needs of families and individuals in Eastern Kentucky through their broad base of experience, education, and training in mental health practices. During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the counseling program is highlighting the importance of taking steps toward good mental health.
“We know that mental health is equally as important as physical and dental health,” said Chris Griffith, manager of FLCS. “Many people suffer mental health concerns in silence. Awareness brings these issues to the surface and creates a place to have a dialogue about mental health. It also serves to reduce existing stigma and can provide clarity to resolve any misperceptions on the subject.”
In the communities CAP serves, FLCS is a primary provider for many local referring agencies, including medical clinics, social service agencies, churches, and courts. The program works collaboratively with these community partners to ensure that individuals, families, and groups receive professional, compassionate counseling services. The staff is committed to the value of the individual, the importance of families, and the wisdom of spiritual beliefs and principles. Services are conducted both in person and through telehealth online visits.
The need for mental health providers in CAP’s service area is more than four times the national average, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In addition to the lack of mental health care providers offering services, the poverty many people in Appalachia face creates a negative impact on their mental health.
A study by the National Institute of Health found poverty in childhood and among adults can cause poor mental health through social stresses, stigma, and trauma. The study also noted mental health problems can lead to impoverishment through loss of employment or underemployment, or fragmentation of social relationships. It can be a vicious and complex cycle, as many people with mental health problems move in and out of poverty, but FLCS continues to offer compassionate services to make a difference in the lives of Appalachians.
“Many of our participants face crippling poverty and struggle for basic necessities,” Griffith said. “Subsequently, mental health is neglected when things such as food, shelter, and basic safety needs are not present or not stable. CAP seeks to address the whole person by supplying supports for food, shelter, and safety so that our participants can seek counseling care from a place of increased stability.”
FLCS encourages people who are interested in seeking counseling services to reach out to the program. No one will be denied counseling services due to a lack of ability to pay.
“My advice is do it, take the step,” Griffith said. “Counseling is about forming a professional relationship with a caring, well-trained provider in order to address the concerns you choose. There is no harm in getting help, only in staying stuck. You may find out through reaching out you are tapping into a resource that can change your life and create healing.”
For more information about FLCS, visit christianapp.org/family-life-counseling.