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Fri, Oct. 18

Local mental health services, 45 years later

In the past decades that this Counselor's Column has been appearing in The Daily Courier (yes, decades!), West Yavapai Guidance Clinic has provided information on topics from depression and grief to parenting and post-traumatic stress disorder. WYGC is gratified to provide this valuable information, and questions from you, the readers, are always welcome. In fact, please take time to email a topic idea or question to the Counselor's Column today, to L.Norman@wygc.org.

As West Yavapai Guidance Clinic readies to celebrate its 45th anniversary this October, it seems a good time to step back and provide an overview of how mental health, crisis and addiction treatment services have grown for area residents.

When the nonprofit West Yavapai Guidance Clinic was established, the entire Yavapai County population per the 1960 census count was 28,912. The recent 2000 Census showed that there are 211,033 people living in our county. Borrowed space and part-time professionals were the clinic's norm in the 1960s, yet the clinic steadily grew to provide mental health services in permanent sites with a team of skilled professional and full-time staffers. Today, West Yavapai Guidance Clinic serves approximately 7,300 people each year and has the following numbers of people currently in care:

• Children who have diagnoses that include autism, anxiety and depression: 1,201;

• Adults with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: 1,095;

• Adults with mild to moderate disorders, such as anxiety and depression: 1,580;

• Adults in outpatient or residential substance abuse treatment: 569.

The above does not even begin to capture the array of clinic programming - there are even more programs and more people being served through clinic locations in Prescott Valley and Prescott, and they come from as far away as Black Canyon City and Seligman. There are not many people remaining who recall the clinic's earliest of days, but indeed there are some who remember the vision that mental health services - a part of one's total healthcare - would be available in our own backyard.

The Feb. 3, 1967, edition of the Courier featured a guest editorial by Richard Reece, then president of the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Board of Directors, and he wrote, "This clinic is more than a 'thing' or a place. It is a vigorous relationship among us all. It is here for you and yours."

As with the clinic's earliest volunteer board visionaries in the 1960s, there were visionaries in both the clinic's management and on the Daily Courier's management team who started and continue the vital educational work of the Counselor's Column. We have heard from many over the years that a topic resonated with you. We look forward to responding to your emails or letters, so please send them in today.

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