Samaritan Counseling Center expands with new facility as demand for services increases

Samaritan Counseling Center started back in the 1970s as a small enterprise but has not expanded to satellite offices in multiple communities and school distric
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Fox Valley-based counseling center is making more room for more conversations about mental health.

Over the past year, the Samaritan Counseling Center has been working on expanding its services and facility by building a brand-new building.

The non-profits executive director, Rosangela Berbert, says the new build couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Our main goal is to provide mental health and behavioral health care to our community,” said Berbert.

Samaritan Counseling Center started back in the 1970s as a small enterprise but has not expanded to satellite offices in multiple communities and school districts.

“Through time, the need for our services has become very evident,” said Berbert

Those services have become even more in demand in recent years.

“There are several factors there…people are struggling, and resilience is declining,” said Berbert.

According to the American Psychological Association’s most recent study, a third of adults say they are so stressed that basic decision-making, such as deciding what to eat or what to wear every day, has become more difficult. There’s also an increase in compassion fatigue.

“It’s the pandemic, it was the stress around the election. It is all the uncertainties related to how much we have to adapt to and suspend our lives to mitigate the risks of this pandemic. It’s the social injustices and social movements that have been brewing. All of this has pretty much taken away a good deal of the sense of safety we had,” said Berbert.

At Samaritan Counseling, they’ve seen an 18 percent increase in billable hours from 2020 to 2021, meaning people are needing counseling a bit longer.

“We went from like, five and a half sessions per client on average in 2019 to over seven sessions per client in 2021,” said Berbert.

Berbert said their school-based wellness services have also seen a 133 percent increase in kids needing further evaluation by a provider.

“From January to December 2020, we referred 230 students for further evaluation, said Berbert. “In 2021, we referred 775 students.”

Berbert said with the increase in demand, they decided to build a brand-new, larger facility. The capital campaign started in 2019.

“Our original goal was to raise $2.85 million, which includes all the cost of the land that we purchased and the construction,” said Berbert.

The new facility will be twice as big as the old one, with 14 counseling offices, a big conference room, and a self-care room for employees to reconnect.

“The two years of working remotely and particularly the team members that work in schools, they need to have a place where they can come together. And, you know, reenergize and replenish their resilience tank.,” said Berbert.

“There’s just been a lot of stress in the last couple of years and in pretty much everybody’s life. I don’t think anyone is exempt from that. And as a result, that’s how it’s showing up…is this increased anxiety and increased stress and a place like Samaritan Counseling is here,” said John Wallschlaeger, a member of the capital campaign for Samaritan Counseling Center.

Wallschlaeger has been part of the capital campaign since the beginning because during his law enforcement career, he saw the need for more mental health services in the community.

“When the crisis occurs, it sometimes results in police contact so for law enforcement agencies to be able to recognize the crisis and recognize the services in the community to help these individuals, getting those two connected is a great thing,” said Wallschlaeger. “There are resources in the community, like Samaritan that can fill their needs.”

The plan is to open by this summer, but there’s still time for people to donate as a generous community donor will match donations up to $250,000.

Amid a drastic rise in the need for mental health care, Fox Valley-based Samaritan Counseling Center is about to open the doors on its expansion.

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