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New therapist offers services at Jefferson Hospital

Mikia Finley understands that there are times when everyone needs help.

“There’s no shame in needing help,” Finley said. “My job is to help people understand that just because you need support doesn’t mean you’re crazy, it means you’re human.”

As a licensed professional counselor and the new therapist at Jefferson Hospital’s Behavioral Heath Outpatient Unit, she often sees patients who have been stabilized in the hospital’s inpatient program and then need help addressing the issues that originally brought them there. She also knows that there are many other people in the community who also need her help, but who have never been hospitalized in a crisis situation.

“I see a lot of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation,” Finley said. “There are many transitions taking place from a geriatric point of view. They lose a lot of people. Their needs change. They become less independent. They slow down and that’s hard. You’ve been living your adult life all these years and you’re going from independent to less independent. It is enough to make a person feel anxious and depressed, wondering whether or not they want to live.”

While some adults are coming to terms with diagnoses that occur in old age, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or even rheumatoid arthritis, other, younger people are dealing with grief over the loss of a partner or life changes due to diabetes, high blood pressure or complications from strokes.

“Some of these are grueling and difficult to understand at any stage,” Finley said. “My own father kept saying towards the end that he didn’t want to burden us, his family. I’m sure many people experience that. They were the caregiver, and the tables have turned and they don’t know how to ask for help.”

Finley’s job at Jefferson Hospital is to help them see that they are not alone, that help is available, and that after grief and after world-altering change, there is still a life worth living.

“I think COVID has done us justice in terms of mental health,” Finley said. “It opened the door to talking about it.”

While the hospital’s inpatient services focus on the geriatric population, its outpatient services are open to all adults age 21 and older. Anyone who has been referred by a doctor or contacts the clinic themselves can come by for an initial assessment and determination of treatment.

The clinic offers both individual and group therapies.

Three different groups meet daily from Monday to Wednesday, with an individual grief group meeting on Thursdays and a night group for working adults on Thursday evenings.

On Monday they talk about healthy living and relaxation. Tuesdays focus on emotions and the impact of emotions on one’s overall self. On Wednesday they talk more specifically about diagnoses, both mental and physical, and medication management.

“We’re talking about ways to improve your life, exercise, eat right, do activities. We go outside and walk or we do chair yoga. We are bringing different types of mobility into the program, taking into account everyone’s ability to participate,” Finley said. “We do mindfulness exercises. Stress management and relaxation are part of this. We want to get people used to different activities. Some people no longer discover hobbies. When you sit there day after day, it’s so monotonous and you get sad or anxious. We want to teach you different things you can do to distract yourself. Positive coping skills are essential to getting better.”

The lessons are aimed at creating a positive self-image, identifying core values ​​and giving permission to be their authentic self.

“At some point we all have questions about life, about how we internalize life, how we navigate our way,” Finley said. “It takes effort from the client and the team, but the client actually has to do the work. We are there for you. Tell us what you want to tackle. We will make recommendations, but ultimately you decide what you want to work on.”

For more information about the behavioral health services offered at Jefferson Hospital or to schedule a visit, call 478-377-7676.