Free clinic for mental healthcare opens in Augusta

Published: Apr. 25, 2019 at 7:10 PM EDT
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The need for mental health care continues to grow with record reports of opioid addiction, depression, and suicide.

However, options for people who don't have insurance are very limited but here in Augusta, there's a new option.

A free clinic has just opened in Augusta that solely focuses on mental health for the uninsured or under-insured. They just opened up their doors at 6 and they'll stay open for the next 2 hours, taking walk-ins.

Doctor Norah Essali is a psychiatry resident at the Medical College of Georgia. After 6 months of planning, she's opening a free mental health clinic.

"I think there's just more awareness, that we need to have resources to treat it," said Essali.

But she's found the resources scarce, especially for those who can't afford the cost.

"We see it every day that uninsured patient struggle to get good access to mental health care. They end up abusing the emergency room or just not getting care at all," said Essali.

As long as you fit the criteria, patients get psychiatric evaluations, treatments and help managing medications.

"You basically just have to show that you qualify as uninsured or underinsured and at or below 200% of the federal poverty line," said Emily Moore, a first-year medical student at MCG.

Medical students like Emily Moore are volunteering their time.

“It's just really awesome to be able to provide services for people who lack the resources," said Moore.

And with the record shortage of psychiatrists and other mental healthcare professionals, Essali hopes this new clinic can make a difference.

"Having that introduction to psychiatry, and it's important early on in their career that maybe will inspire them to go into psychiatry," said Essali.

Especially when what you're doing is helping people in a big way.

“We're offering free services and sometimes those services can be life-saving or life-changing," said Moore.

These residents and students are not getting paid to offer this, they're volunteering. MCG has been in full support of the clinic, letting them use the Stoney Building after hours.

The free clinic is offered the last Thursday of every month, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There is no appointment needed, you can just walk in.

For more information,