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Need for more mental health services bringing clinic to Missoula

Clinic to open Jan.6 at Community Medical Center
Community Medical Center
Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 20:56:40-05

MISSOULA — Shodair Children’s Hospital will be opening mental-health clinics for children in Missoula and Butte, saying it wants to help alleviate a shortage of these services where they’re needed.

The Helena-based hospital also says the clinics are a collaboration with other health-care providers in the local community.

Nicole Tucker, who directs all of the children and family services at the Western Montana Mental Health Center, shed some light on the mental health issues facing kids here in Missoula.

Tucker says Missoula lacks preventative measures for handling mental health issues at an early age.

“When you have sufficient resources, such as specialized and accessible clinics, you're less likely to see mental health worsen as kids grow older,” Tucker explained.

Here in the western part of the state, Tucker sees kids across the mental health spectrum -- some of whom she classifies as internalizers who struggle with depression or can be hyperactive.

Other children deal with trauma, often from family drug and alcohol use. She said in Missoula specifically, homelessness can also play a role in children's mental health and eventually snowball into larger issues. T

"In Missoula there's a high rate of homelessness... it's very very much something that we all see, so you have all encompassing kind of issues with not only just the kids, but the parents,” Tucker said.

“And then they involved the school system or a bigger system like CPS or juvenile justice system and so we are kind of in the middle of all those different systems.”

While Tucker's team works diligently to address mental health issues, she considers the addition of a new children's clinic a win for Missoula.

She said the more people in her field that can collaborate and help families in our area, the better.

The Shodair clinic in Missoula, which is set to open on Jan. 6., will be located at Community Medical Center.