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New mental health clinic in Tampa Bay area looks to provide immediate help to patients

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Posted at 10:01 AM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 18:28:51-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The United States is dealing with a mental health crisis; it takes months to get in to see a counselor, most don’t take insurance and prices are increasing as the demand rises.

Kelly Amshoff, a fitness instructor, hit this roadblock when looking for mental health therapy for her family. So, she reached out to her pediatrician.

“She was the one that, like, slid me across this pamphlet of, like, 20 therapists, and she was like, 'Hey, be ready for like a six-month waiting list. And they're probably going to be self-pay only,” explained Amshoff. “It was really overwhelming, so I started calling around. I was met with a lot of voicemails. I left a lot of messages.”

That’s when Amshoff heard about Ellie Clinic, a mental health provider whose mission is to destigmatize mental health therapy. The clinic is based in Minnesota, but they now operate over 100 clinics, and one just opened in the Tampa Bay area.

They were able to help Amshoff schedule an appointment for herself, her husband, and daughter right away.

“Their call center answered right away. And they took down all of our information. They told us right there within like the first five minutes of our call, like, you have a $20 copay. Are you comfortable with that? And I was like, yes, that's so much better than the self-pay rates,” explained Amshoff.

Ashley Aubin is a licensed clinical social worker, whose been practicing for almost 20 years. She tells ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan that Ellie Clinics are run differently than other offices.

“We have all of these resources that are available. They have a podcast that they do and a whole guide for therapists like you get a lot of support, which is great because we need that,” said Aubin. “I have so many clients that come to me that nobody knows they're coming to therapy because they're afraid of what people are going to think about them, and really, the honest truth is, is that we all need somebody in our lives to be able to talk to and share about.”

And as "professional secret keepers,” as they call themselves, Aubin believes everyone can benefit by talking to a professional, especially to learn important coping skills.

“Just be able to hear their feelings being validated is a huge thing for people, and to have somebody outside of your circle and outside of your family, where you can come in, basically just leave me all of your junk, and walk away and not have to take it with you. Like, I'll keep your stuff for you. That's what we do. I may not be able to change anything in my circumstance, but I can change how I respond to things, which is a key part,” explained Aubin.

Ellie Clinic accepts a variety of health insurance, including Cigna, United Health Care, Aetna, Humana, and Medicare. If you don’t have insurance, the owner of Ellie Clinic, Jake Fisher, said there's a cash-pay option and they work on a sliding scale.

“If there's a financial challenge, we try to work with each client individually and we really do want to treat as many clients as we can. I think that's a big part of destigmatizing is just making mental health care the norm,” explained Fisher. “I wouldn't sit here and tell you I have all the answers, but I want to be part of the solution, you know, to make mental health care more accessible to more people.”

Ellie also provides a free 15-minute session for prospective clients, no strings attached.

“We will help guide you into making some decisions in your life that can help change how things are going,” said Aubin

The newest Ellie Clinic is on West Hillsborough Avenue in Westchase. They're also planning to open offices in South Tampa and Safety Harbor. Another eight locations will follow in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties. You can learn more about the clinic here.