Filling a gap for people who need mental health care

When Kim’s world came crashing down around her, she remembered something her mother had always told her, “When you’re in need, go to church.”

Four years before, Kim’s brother died suddenly in a car crash, leaving her the sole caretaker of her mother, as her father had died of Parkinson’s years before. Soon after, her mother died. Still reeling from these deaths, Kim was at her job of 22 years when her boss walked in and handed over her last paycheck. Kim moved to Pennsylvania for a new job and a fresh start, but six months later, lost that job as well.

She moved in with friends in Columbus, Ohio to regroup. When she had a falling out with them, and with nowhere to turn, Kim knew she needed to find help. But she had lost her family and alienated her friends. She considered counseling, but didn’t have the means to pay for it. Then she remembered her mom’s advice, reached out, and found Catholic Social Services (CSS), which provides counseling services for many of the issues with which she was struggling: anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship problems.

Kim started meeting with Becky, a CSS counselor, and thought she was beginning to work through her grief and years of personal turmoil, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. With counseling, Kim started to face and overcome more than she ever thought she could. For example, Kim had never really grieved the loss of her family. She also had high levels of anxiety that made it difficult to make decisions. Moreover, a shopping problem that left her in significant debt fed right back into her anxiety. Becky and Kim addressed all these issues in practical ways.

“Becky made me develop strategies on my own,” said Kim. With Becky’s help, Kim clarified the difference between wants and needs, and over time she changed her relationship with money. Speaking of this change, she said, “I’m very happy and content with what I have and I enjoy saving money.” Then Kim realized something bigger: she herself was capable of change too. Kim said that, before finding CSS, “I just assumed that’s how I was.”

Kim’s transformation started with having a safe place to explore all she had experienced with someone who cared. “That’s what I like about Catholic Social Services,” Kim said, “you get the comfort and support of saying what you would say to your family members.”

CSS provides hope and healing to people like Kim when they are most vulnerable, by lending a helping hand and a listening ear when people don’t have anywhere to turn. Times of mental illness often correlate with times of financial hardship, and CSS fills an essential gap in the community for people who need mental health care, but cannot afford it.