WYOMING – WYO HELP is now using BetterHelp to provide access to mental health services to qualifying residents in the counties they serve.
According to Kyle Borger, executive director of WYO HELP, individuals who use the service receive a weekly video session and unlimited messaging with their therapist throughout the week.
The service just started being offered in late May. Borger said a couple people are already signed up.
“So far, we’ve gotten excellent feedback on it – that it has been helpful,” he said.
“Our customers receive access through the BetterHelp online platform from the day that they sign on through the end of September 2022,” Borger said. This allows customers access to therapy for a longer period of time than they would receive financial assistance for in-person therapy.
Interested individuals can apply for the service by visiting WYO HELP’s website or calling the office.
Borger said after the organization first verifies a person qualifies (based on their income), then they can sign in and answer a couple questions to place them with a therapist. He said people can opt for a different therapist if they feel the one they were placed with is not the right fit.
Previously, WYO HELP had offered (and continues to offer) payment assistance to local mental health providers.
“One of the things that we’d been hearing about was a lack of capacity, a lack of choice and convenience,” Borger said. Some individuals might not live near a therapist or be able to go to appointments when mental health offices are open.
“A lot of people were choosing to forgo a therapist when it could have been beneficial,” Borger said.
For this reason, the organization decided to look into options for online therapy.
Borger explained this is a pilot program in Wyoming. The organization will be monitoring whether or not people in Wyoming would use an online mental health resource like BetterHelp and if it could be beneficial in places where mental health resources are limited.
“We won’t have anything specific, detail-wise, on the person but we’ll have overall data points that we can share throughout the state. Other agencies can then see if it was beneficial,” Borger explained.
The service is being funded by the CARES Act, so it is for those who have been impacted by the pandemic. Borger said, “which is pretty much all of us.”
Also available is an auto assistance program. Borger said now that the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is providing housing support, more of WYO HELP’s funds can be put toward other projects.
“We’re looking for other ways to assist that we might not have considered before,” he said. “People do need their cars to get to work and maintain employment so we’re looking at ways to help with that.”
Along with auto assistance, Borger said they can offer limited assistance with home repair.
WYO HELP (formerly Goshen HELP) was officially created in September of 2015 according to Borger.
“Primarily the focus at that time was to help youth who were in need,” Borger said.
After a couple community meetings, the group formed a board of four members and attempted to find ways to help out.
Borger said their support was limited until receiving the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) in 2018.
“In 2018, the state of Wyoming asked Goshen HELP to administer the Community Services Block Grant in Goshen County, and that kind of triggered everything,” Borger said. Borger explained at that time, the grant was $77,500.
Also, around this time, Borger said he joined the organization in a part-time role.
That first year of receiving the grant, WYO HELP raised $120,000, including the grant money. Boger said the next year, they had $300,000.
“This year we may hit $600,000, but we’re also now serving six counties,” Borger said. “Every year there’s been exponential growth.”
WYO HELP serves Carbon, Crook, Goshen, Niobrara, Washakie and Weston Counties.
Right now, with the addition of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), the organization employs 10 staff members.