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BRANCHLAND — Prestera hosted an open house at its Lincoln County location Friday in an effort to connect with the local community and to make individuals aware of the services provided there.

According to their website, Prestera is the largest behavioral health services provider in West Virginia, serving the counties of Boone, Cabell, Clay, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Putnam and Wayne. Prestera provides services to rural areas where individuals may otherwise be unable to access behavioral health services.

The office in Lincoln County provides services to patients of all ages, including children.

“This is an out-patient location so there’s no beds, nobody stays overnight,” said Kim Miller, Director of Corporate Development. “But we have a number of clients who depend on us. There’s a doctor that practices out of this office, therapists and a supervisor.”

Miller said there is often a stigma surrounding mental health, but that they encourage anyone who needs help to look past that to seek care.

“If people need help or want help, this office is convenient,” Miller said. “We encourage people not to let the stigma stop them from coming in and seeking services. We’re just happy to see people and try to help them the best we can.”

Lincoln Program Director Eric Schomburg said they typically have between 300 and 500 patients who they help at any given time.

“We like to do groups here as well,” said. “Of course we do individual therapy. We also do what is called medication assisted treatment groups here, those who have gone through recovery and are usually in the suboxone program do groups here.”

Schomburg said the coronavirus pandemic has caused them to see an increased need for mental health services.

“When COVID hit it seemed like the anxiety level really sky-rocketed,” Schomburg said. “Then when people were in their houses more, the rate of depression started to increase. We’ve seen a lot, even now. The anxiety level is still increasing tremendously. It’s almost like when they think it’s ok, something new comes out and they go right back into it.”

Miller said the pandemic has also impacted the way mental health services are provided.

“It also seems like mental health services are changing all across the country,” Miller said. “Prior to COVID-19 a lot of providers really weren’t doing much tele-health. We’ve been involved in tele-health, but we really ramped it up and we had to ramp it up. We worked through the pandemic because we have to be there for people.”

CEO Lisa Zappia said Prestera is working to extend its reach in the county, and to inform more citizens of the breadth of services provided by the center.

“We’ve been here for many years,” Zappia said. “I feel like what we do for this county is integral to what this county is about. I feel like we are under-utilized and that we could do a whole lot more for Lincoln County. I would love to be able to see us expand our arms around Lincoln County. I think people just don’t realize we’re here, and I don’t think they realize that we have services for all ages.”

Zappia said they try to create a welcome environment for anyone who comes in seeking help.

“We care about how you’re doing,” Zappia said. “We don’t care who you are or where you come from, we just want to see you get better. I think that’s something that’s very important, because that’s not always true anymore. We really are here to serve this community, and we’d like to be able to serve more people.”

The Prestera office is also transitioning back to more face-to-face services. The Lincoln location is accepting new patients. Anyone seeking more information can contact the Lincoln location at 304-824-5790.

Reporter Nancy Peyton can be reached at npeyton@hdmediallc.com or 304-824-5101.

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