Featured image: The staff of Good Intentions Counseling, the Business for All Grand Prize Winner.
It didn't take long for Phil Carr to realize that in the world of mental health services, the road to hell is often paved with good intentions.
A licensed clinical social worker with more than a decade of experience, Carr has worked alongside plenty of young clinicians hoping to improve clients' quality of life while going unsupported and unappreciated themselves. At the same time, he noticed that the clients — people faced with trauma, personality disorders, anxiety, and a variety of other mental health concerns — had trouble accessing the services they needed. Carr decided to launch the Seattle-based Good Intentions Counseling in 2015 to find a better model that looked after patients and staff.
"The thought and the idea was to really look after the clinician and to really be able to break down the challenges and barriers when it comes to access to services, particularly specialty services," says Carr.
The result is a growing, community-based agency that deploys clinicians to underserved populations of any race, socioeconomic status, or language status. Hello Alice is proud to name Good Intentions Counseling the $50,000 Grand Prize winner of the Business for All Grant program that will support Carr and his team during a time of unprecedented need.
"A lot of things that have been kept under wraps have come out during this time period," says COO and Behavioral Specialist David Hester. "People are spending much more time at home. People are much more unhappy. There's civil unrest. There are so many factors that go into the mental health aspect of how we're functioning in this world. We support some clients who have no idea how to navigate ridiculously challenging systems, and we provide them with a pathway so that it's a little bit easier."
Addressing the pandemic has revealed incredible resilience among the Good Intentions team. While the agency quickly rolled out a telehealth platform to safely connect with clients, well over half of its visits remain in-person.
"The question is how do we serve these clients in a variety of ways and not just our traditional manner," says Lead Administrator Chantel Wood. "That's something we became experts on. I've always heard about telehealth; it's something we were able to learn, navigate, and adapt to our clients really quickly."
Supporting staff has taken top priority with the strain of serving patients while integrating stringent new safety protocols. Part of this means securing the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), but it's also about making sure that each clinician feels supported and not overworked — a challenge given the unending demand for services.
"We never took a break," Hester says. "While the retail sector, for example, has taken an incredible hit, we have as well; however, we kept going and pushing through without any interruptions. That's a testament to the team's will to keep going when all odds are telling us to quit."
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Before the pandemic, Good Intentions held regular debriefs where all staff could come together to talk about cases and share personal stories. "With the community-based approach, one of the cons is that people feel like an island," Carr says. "When you're out there in the community, you don't have someone who will understand." Those weekly get-togethers were a critical way to build morale and share wisdom from experienced staff down to bachelor-level clinicians.
Current social distancing requirements have made these meetings impossible in the existing Good Intentions space. Carr says the grant will help solve the "space problem" for the growing business. Most of all, he says additional funding will ensure Good Intentions has all the PPE and other supplies to continue delivering on its mission.
"This is going to our frontline workers," Wood emphasizes. "They're the ones in the home every day and going out in this COVID environment and navigating this for themselves and the families we serve."
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