The new Grainger Community Counseling and Wellness Clinic is open. Located on the University of Montevallo campus at Sims House, the free-to-the-public clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Made possible through a partnership between Michael and Donna Grainger, the University of Montevallo, the city of Montevallo and Shelby County, the clinic provides free mental health care in general therapy, group therapy, play therapy for children and telemental health virtual counseling services.
“The need for mental health professionals by 2025 is projected to be a million,” said Michael Grainger, who donated to fund the clinic. “Based on the current population and demographics, we’re going to be 250,000 short. But there’s really only one number that is important in mental health and dealing with mental health, and that’s the number one, because it’s a personal journey you’re on. It’s a personal, intense journey for the person with the illness and the person doing the counseling.”
The clinic hopes to serve some of the 207,000 adults in Alabama who do not receive mental health care because of cost, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“If people are mentally well, it improves their quality of life, particularly work life,” said Dr. Latofia Parker, clinic director and associate professor of counseling at UM. “From a societal point of view, we want people to have healthy families and go to work. We know that mental health is a big challenge in our society so providing free services will help meet a need that will enhance our community, county and state.”
The clinic also will act as a training facility for graduate students specializing in clinical mental health, school counseling and couples and family counseling. The 30- to 45-minute sessions will be conducted by eight to 10 students in UM’s graduate counseling program who are in the final clinical phase of their education.
“We have four therapy rooms — one is dedicated to play therapy and one is dedicated to group therapy,” Parker said. “The other two are for general therapy sessions. There are not too many places around offering play therapy.”
She added that play therapy is used for children to help them process their feelings and emotions in a safe way using something that is natural for them.
“Telemental health counseling is for people who can’t make it into the center or don’t live in the Montevallo area, have a lack of transportation or have a disability,” Parker said. “This is for people who can’t get counseling in a more traditional setting.”
The clinic’s address is 1045 Middle St., Montevallo, AL 35115 and can be reached at 205-665-6377 or at Montevallo.edu/community-counseling-clinic.