FORT MILL — When Donita Holmes relocated from the Washington, D.C., area to Fort Mill five years ago, the only drawback was having to commute to her job in Charlotte. Now, I-77 is barely an afterthought when she breezes to work at the recently opened York Place Community Counseling Center in Peach Tree Plaza.
Offering mental and behavioral health services, the clinic is the only one of its kind inside town limits and the surrounding township. It’s the second outpatient facility opened by York Place, a residential program for children with severe emotional disorders and issues, but the only one not located on its York campus.
Open since July, the not-for-profit Community Counseling Center recently hosted an open house for a tour of the office and to get information about services. Counseling for children, individual adults, couples and families is available. The staff includes four certified therapists and a psychiatrist.
Holmes, the lead clinician, also has an office for her private practice in Baxter.
“It keeps me close to home – no more traveling to Charlotte,” she said.
Aiming to fill a void in mental health care, the new Fort Mill clinic also wants to make an effort to reach out to those on the lower end of the economic scale.
“It’s very rare to find [providers] that accept Medicaid,” said Kim Adkins, program director for York Place. “That makes us special.”
The Community Counseling Center also accepts most private insurance plans and offers a sliding scale for clients who want to pay out of pocket.
Adkins said the timing couldn’t be better.
“These times we’re going through are especially difficult,” she said. “We have people out of work and people experiencing things they haven’t before, and there’s a huge need for behavioral health services.”
She said a growing number of people are seeking out their family doctors to get prescriptions for Prozac and other psychotropic drugs rather then try therapy because they lack easy access to counselors.
“We have a psychiatrist who can do that if it’s needed, if it’s recommended,” Adkins said, “but often working with therapists to work though it,” can lead to the same result – if not a better one since medications can have a range of side effects. she said.
Fort Mill Town Councilman Larry Huntley said “it sounds like a good thing.”
“Certainly, there are a lot of people with physical problems that mentally induced,” he said.
Opening the facility in Fort Mill is an important milestone for York Place, Adkins said.
“York Place has been around for 162 years and this facility is the first time we’ve ever offered any services off our [York] campus,” she said.
“We just hope it’s a jumping off point and that we can offer services throughout South Carolina. We’re isolated here in York County now, but as we branch out, this is our first step to be able to serve more people,” Adkins said.
The next step will be to open facilities in the most underserved areas, Adkins said.
“We are looking at Chester and Gaffney, where there is a tremendous need because they have no counselors,” she said.
The York Place Community Counseling Center is in Peach Tree Plaza, across the parking lot from Founders. Regular business hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday but evening hours can be scheduled. For more information, call 800-939-4445 or visit www.yorkplace.org.