Several years ago, just after starting a small group mental health practice, a young man names Leonard walked into our office. He was in his early 30’s, was supporting three children, and was recently divorced. After our intake session, I learned that he had suffered from severe depression and anxiety his entire life. Despite his mental health challenges and the duties he faced raising three young children by himself, he managed to hold a full-time job at a local social service agency for the past several years. He had even obtained a promotion and become a shift manager. At the end of our intake session he presented his insurance card and our office manager checked his coverage only to discover that he had a $12.000.00 deductible that had to be met before his insurance would cover any outpatient psychotherapy. Due to the fact that Leonard was raising three children and his income was just above minimum wage he would be unable to pay out-of-pocket for services until his sizeable deductible was met. We referred Leonard to a local community mental health clinic where he could possibly qualify for free or reduced cost services, yet Leonard informed us that the nearest clinic was many miles from his home and the clinic was only open during hours that Leonard was at work. We agreed to see Leonard pro-bono, yet my partners and I knew we could only take on so many pro-bono cases if we were to stay in business and feed our own families.
Over the course of the next few months and years, we met many more individuals like Leonard. Individuals who were employed full-time, in some cases had more than one job, yet had insurance coverage that was sub-standard or had a deductible that was so high they were never able to meet it. My partners and I became further and further discouraged as we met more individuals in this situation. We admired Leonard’s work ethic and dedication to this work, yet we knew that if Leonard was unemployed or received government subsidized insurance the services he desperately needed would be covered. It seemed like individuals, like Leonard, had fallen through the crakes. So after much deliberation and planning we decided to form The Millcreek Counseling and Mental Health Advocacy Partnership, a non-profit corporation aimed at helping individuals like Leonard.