Minnesota provider removing barriers to mental health services

It’s now been more than a year and a half since we first went into lockdown, and studies show that the pandemic continues to have an impact on mental health. One Twin Cities-based mental health provider is seeing it firsthand and says that it's taking steps to break down barriers to care. 

"Everyone has a unique story to tell. They just need to feel safe to share it," Erin Pash said.

Pash is co-founder of Ellie Mental Health Therapy, a metro area mental health provider with clinics across the state.

"We are inundated right now with referrals, and I wish that we could keep up with demand. We do our best," Pash said.

More than a year and a half since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she says demand for their services remains high, which is in line with what’s become a national trend.

"We’ve seen a lot of people experiencing more anxiety from loneliness, a lot more depression…kind of boredom… can get people sitting in their own heads a lot," she said. "We’ve seen a lot of relational issues." 

Some published reports have shown a steady rise in anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. Despite this, a study by the CDC found suicides decreased last year. However deaths increased among young adults and people of color, especially men (Black, American Indian or Alaska Native and Hispanic men).

"Our mission and part of our goal is to destigmatize mental health," Pash said. 

It's a crisis driven by the pandemic, and while the worst of COVID-19 might be over, Pash said a new crisis may emerge.

"I think we’re going to see a fallout of what’s kind of going on with folks and their mental health. And it’s really going to change the way we do things in the world in the next 100 years," she said. 

Previously known as Ellie Family Services, Pash said Ellie Mental Health sees more than 14,000 people each year in Minnesota. She said there's a renewed focus on reaching those in marginalized communities. The mental health provider is expanding, with clinics soon to open in Indianapolis, Denver and Florida.