New outpatient mental health clinic opens in Frederick

One of the first things people see when walking into the BTST Services' mental health clinic in Frederick is the phrase "A Better Tomorrow Starts Today" displayed on screens behind the reception desk. That phrase is what BTST stands for.

The organization is a mental health agency with locations across Maryland, including the city of Baltimore, Washington County and Prince George's County. On Monday, BTST officially opened the doors of its Frederick County clinic.

Christopher Simon, the organization's CEO and co-owner, said BTST's goal is to create clinics that feel inviting and give clients a sense of pride in getting treatment there.

"What we wanted to do was to create this excitement about therapy ... because there's already a stigma associated with mental health and therapy," he said.

"The idea is that we want to engage the clients and have them come into a space that looks fun while we're actually implementing mental health techniques and skills."

BTST offers individual, group and family therapy, as well as psychiatric rehabilitation program (PRP) services and medication management. Clients can come to BTST's clinic in person for services or meet with the BTST staff via telehealth.

The Frederick clinic has conference rooms, an employee lounge, multiple offices, therapy rooms and a space with activities and games, such as foosball, air hockey and a table with coloring supplies, for PRP services.

PRP services are a behavioral health approach to practicing and implementing life skills to mitigate the impact of mental health challenges on people's lives, according to a description of BTST's services.

PRP treatment includes various activities to strengthen clients' self-worth and social skills and can include exposure to individual and group-based activities, as well as community activities such as going to parks or playgrounds.

Simon said BTST already operates a PRP services facility specifically for children in Frederick, called Excel Youth, which was opened over 10 years ago. This location only provides PRP services to children ages 5 to 17, Simon said.

The decision to open another location in Frederick County that provides more services to a wider range of clients was inspired by the positive reaction BTST had for Excel Youth.

Tasha Walls, the Frederick County location clinical director, said that with the opening of the outpatient clinic, children who participated in Excel Youth can transition to BTST's adult services and receive more comprehensive mental health services.

"As with any community, [Frederick] has needs that are greater than just the children. ... If you treat the child, they still go back to the same house with the same parents and some of the same factors that are leading them into services," Simon said.

"People responded very well to our children's services ... so we wanted to expand to provide services for children and adults."

Walls also said BTST is community-based, meaning the staff can see clients either in the clinic or elsewhere, such as their homes or schools.

"We try to mitigate all the social determinants that stand in the way from people receiving services. We know transportation is one of those, so you don't have to come to us. We can come to you. If you're not available, we can do telehealth services," Simon said.

"We really want to make sure that there's no reason, no excuse or anything standing in your way to receiving the treatment that you need."