BILLINGS — Staff with the Rimrock Foundation cut the ribbon on a new location for its community mental health services clinic at 1601 Lewis Ave. in Billings Tuesday.
“We’ve been space sparse for a long time, and we knew we had to expand to provide the services this community demands of us," said Lenette Kosovich, Rimrock CEO to a small crowd at the ribbon-cutting.
The new clinic will be home to seven counselors who will offer individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, parent/child interaction therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. The clinic will be open to all needing mental health services.
Dr. Malcom Horn, Rimrock mental health services director, said the new space will be a game changer.
“It was a challenge sometimes to try to really provide the care that we needed to. We just weren’t set up really to be able to expand that mental health (care),” Horn said.
Rimrock started off in Billings in 1968, primarily offering substance abuse and addiction help. Kosovich said Rimrock has offered wider mental health services for more than 35 years, but the community seems not to know it.
"It's a really bad secret to keep. It's something that we have to shout out at the top of our lungs," Kosovich said.
Horn has been with Rimrock for 15 years, spending 10 as the head of mental health for the company. She said Rimrock has had mental health care services, but it wasn't one of its strengths. Horn said people with substance-abuse problems are often impacted by lasting trauma that couldn't be addressed in the short time the patient was in the program.
Horn remembered back to when she was an inpatient substance abuse counselor.
"I would tell patients, ‘if you have trauma, we’re really not going to talk about it. I will talk about how it relates to your substance abuse, but you are only going to be with us for 28 days, then you are going to go with another counselor in the community. So, I’m not going to open that up.’ And that was a huge disservice to them, because they really need to start doing that work now," Horn said.
Horn said the new building will change that.
"We have counselors who can't wait to help patients unpack that stuff and heal," Horn said.
Billings Mayor Bill Cole offered a few remarks at the ribbon-cutting. He said about 70 to 80 percent of the crime in Billings can be traced back to substance abuse, and that's all an issue the community will have to tackle together.
“We’ve been wrestling with crime now for 10 years and then the perfect storm hit us with COVID-19. We’re being overwhelmed, so we need (Rimrock's) help more than ever. The reality is that the city of Billings is out of its league. Dealing with mental health and substance abuse is not something that we do. We stand committed with (Rimrock)," Cole said.
At the start of the year, the Billings Police Department released data showing 50 percent average increase in violent crime in 2020, which Police Chief Rich St. John generally pinned on stressors placed on the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Counselors at Rimrock's new community mental health clinic will start taking patients Wednesday. Horn said the clinic will be open regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Staff can also utilize tele-health technology to video call with patients and can make arrangements to see people outside of business hours.