Menninger ClinicMenninger ClinicThere isn’t a community in the world that hasn’t been impacted by mental illness. Stigma is a large part of the baggage that comes along with talking about and treating this health crisis. The Menninger Clinic is hoping to break through the noise and provide Houston with a community resource to not only fight the stigma, but also to treat the people who need care. Their next venture will bring them to the heart of the city and the heart of the LGBTQ community when they open their Menninger 360 clinic in Montrose.
“Montrose is the heart of the city, as far as I’m concerned,” says Matt Estey, Menninger’s program director. “It is centrally located, which gives us access to all areas of inner-loop Houston. 360 is a ‘community integration’ model of care, which means we want to use the community as the setting for our therapeutic work with clients—not theoretical office or classroom experiences. Montrose is walkable with plenty of greenspace, which is critical for our work [in promoting] wellness.”
Estey is a self-proclaimed Army brat who was born in Indianapolis and moved nine times before graduating from high school here in Clear Lake. He eventually earned his graduate degree in social work from the University of Houston, and the proud Coog is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community. The 44-year-old has worked with Menninger closely since 2011, and has been in his current role since October 2017.
“The treatment model [Menninger 360] uses is known as Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). Our two small interdisciplinary teams of mobile mental-health professionals work with our clients where they live, play, and work. We do everything you would expect from an outpatient program—medication management, individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, vocational coaching and support, recovery support—and much, much more,” says Estey.
“I like to say, ‘If it’s not illegal or unethical, we’ll probably try it.’ Our primary limitation is our collective creativity and willingness. All of our services are provided one-on-one, so when we say our program is individualized, that is exactly what it means. We specialize in working with clients who feel stuck and hopeless.”
The Menninger 360 Clinic will also have a special focus on issues that uniquely face the LGBTQ community, according to Estey. “Multiple team members are part of our community, and the remainder are allies. We have team members experienced in working with clients regarding sexual identity, grief, trauma, and complex family-systems challenges. Since our focus is community integration, we work hard to collaborate with clients in connecting with like-minded Houstonians. We also have staff with expertise in sexual health and
The LGBTQ community is generally at a higher risk in dealing with mental illness, with higher rates of suicide and substance abuse compared to other communities. Having the Menninger Clinic offering programming within the Montrose area will have a significant impact on improving the lives of LGBTQ people dealing with mental-health issues.
When asked if there will be access to affordable care, Estey notes that the clinic is working to increase its outreach capacity. “While the 360 program is not covered under our charity-care guidelines, our Bridge Up Initiatives have impacted thousands of school children over the last few years to support social and emotional learning.”
Menninger’s other options for potential patients include a mental-health clubhouse called The Gathering Place that is free and open to those experiencing serious mental illness. They also provide free outpatient services—individual therapy, select group therapies, couples and family therapy, and medication management—at their outpatient clinic in Bellaire, as well as stabilization and assessment services at other locations.
With the launch of a new electronic health records system last year, Menninger has also committed to providing detailed “superbills,” so clients can obtain out-of-network reimbursement throughout the continuum of care.
“I’m always happy to meet with prospective clients or consult with providers who are curious about our services at 360, or the clinic in general.”
For more information, contact Menninger Clinic Program Director Matt Estey at (409) 502-0957.
This article appears in the March 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.