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People’s Health Clinic new behavioral health department helps heal trauma

People’s Health Clinic is healing lives impacted by trauma with its new behavioral health department.

People’s Health Clinic is known by many for providing medical checkups to uninsured residents of Summit and Wasatch counties. And looking after patients’ physical health is just one of the services it provides.

Mental Health Program Director Dr. Linsey Broadbent said in the last five months, almost 600 patients came through the new behavioral health department created in January.

Broadbent said the Latino community is generally wary of medication and therapy so reducing stigma is a large part of what she does. She also said there is a shortage of Spanish-speaking therapists. The language barrier is a hurdle for providing care, but it goes much deeper than that.

“Our patients suffer a lot of health disparities," said Broadbent. "So we're talking about housing insecurity, food insecurity, many of them are not even acknowledged as a citizen or a human being in our country. So they don't have resources, or access to resources that other people might have, just by being born in our country.”

She said many of the local Latinx community have lived so long in survival mode–from trying to survive in their home countries to then surviving immigration. Even though they’re safe now, it’s very easy for them to revert back to that autonomic response.

One of the trauma-focused therapies the clinic uses is bilateral stimulation which activates both hemispheres of the brain. The therapist works with the patient to reprocess the memory and then works through the logical attributes of it.

“And so people can actually remember positive things that happened, or ways that they were shown care, because in actuality, trauma is not the thing that happens to us," said Broadbent. "So it's not the car accident. It's the negative belief that we develop about ourselves after something has happened to us, whether it's, ‘I'm not safe,’ or ‘I'm not worthy.’  Whatever it is, it seems to kind of resurface in different experiences throughout people's lives.”

One of her measures of success? She will treat a patient and they will bring a cousin, an aunt or friends to the next visit. Broadbent said her patients also become powerful advocates of mental health through their own healing journeys. “One of the things that I love about this people is I get to say, ‘Hey, there's a name for this, I bet you feel like this, correct me if I'm wrong, I bet you feel uncomfortable, even when you should feel comfortable.’ And so it’s been a real privilege to help them understand that, yes, their body was doing them a necessary service at the time. But now, we have to learn how to relax and to be able to just exist.”

A privilege People’s Health Clinic hopes to provide every member of our community who needs it.