• Westover hopes to break the stigma around mental health.
Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) Kristle Westover with Star Valley Health joined SVI to discuss some of the mental health services they offer to the community.
She has been with the health provider for about six months, but she has been working in mental health for over 20 years. She has been working with people in many areas like mental disorders or substance abuse. She says she has also worked with geriatric issues and has worked in hospice.
“Just learned the love that I have for a lot of people in this valley,” Westover said. “And a lot of people who struggle with things.”
She says her role is to be a counselor and even help others with just basic needs. She says she specializes in trauma therapy and substance abuse therapy but can see her over many issues they are facing. She says she has also been working with people on anxiety and depression right now too.
She says you don’t need a formal referral to see her either. She says most patients are referrals, but you don’t need one to come visit with her.
She says in her career that there has been some improvement on mental health awareness, but she feels it is still a stigma in some places.
“It just takes consistent effort to say ‘Okay, everybody has mental health’,” Westover said. “It doesn’t matter whether your mental health is sliding a little bit or you’re doing pretty well.”
She says the time you need to speak to a doctor, or a counselor is when you’re not feeling well, and it has lasted more than two weeks and your behavior is changing.
“It can be very hard to reach out,” Westover said. “That can be one of the hardest things for people. Some people come to see me because they said, ‘I couldn’t talk to anybody else, and I don’t know how long I will be able to be here because of that anxiety of just talking to somebody’.
“We really need to work through and get through that as a society. I think it is more of a society issue that leads down to the individual issue.”
She says if you start to see that something seems a bit off with a friend or a loved one, ask them.
“Because usually that is the start of what’s going on,” Westover said. “Or maybe they’re well into not feeling well mentally.”
She says sometimes those individuals will start to test the waters of sharing what they’re feeling. It starts with someone reaching out, but she also understands that can be an anxiety too. The social worker says if they say they are not ready to talk or nothing is wrong, you can respect that.
She also says to be aware of SAD; Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you have a current anxiety or mental health issue, it can feel worse during this time of year.
Westover says she is in Thayne and there is also Sara Burnside who is a therapist in Afton. She says to set up an appointment with either of them, call into the doctor’s offices there and say you need to speak with a clinical social worker. She also says they are not just therapists but serve as case managers for people coming into the hospital or recently received a cancer diagnosis.