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Windham Women’s Health Center Adds Mental Counseling and Boosts Community Connections

November 15, 2022

Two staff additions at the Windham Women’s Health Center this year have added critically important services - mental health counseling and assistance in connecting clients with community services. Having a Licensed Psychiatric Clinician from Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network (BHN) and a bilingual social worker allows the Health Center to support each patient as a whole, said Sarah Bouchard, BSN, RNC-OB, Regional Director of Women’s Health for Hartford HealthCare’s East Region. “Our goal in the Women’s Health Center is to provide high-quality care,” Bouchard said. “Oftentimes people just think of that in terms of medical care and the doctors and nurses who treat them. But high-quality care is when we can offer patients not only excellent medical care, but the support services and resources needed and improved access to mental health care.” Social worker Mariceli Rojas works with center patients to ensure they receive the care they need and are connected to community resources that will benefit them. Licensed Clinical Social Worker Hanna Brinkhaus, who comes to the center from the BHN, provides mental health counseling for the Women's Health Center. “Having these additions is advancing the level of care we are able to provide,” Bouchard said. > Related: Healthy Beginnings Made Easier for Soon-To-Be Mothers Brinkhaus came on board in late September. She had been in private practice before joining the BHN, and has spent her career focusing on family counseling. She is trained in Infant Mental Health, a specialty that provides support to new mothers to help them raise healthy and well adjusted babies. Areas that patients can come to her with include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and mood disorders. “The intensity of being a new family can bring on issues of anxiety and stress,” Brinkhaus said. She receives referrals from the maternity care providers who screen for mental health issues at appointments. > Related: Windham Women's Health Center Continues to Grow Rojas’ job is to help these new families navigate the often confusing and complicated world of services that are available to underserved and at-risk populations. She started in July. “It’s like a big puzzle,” she said, and can be further complicated by language and transportation barriers. She often starts working with clients well before the baby is born to make sure that after the birth, all the necessary services are in place. Well connected in the Windham area because of her prior work as a home visitor and a family advocate, Rojas helps with immigration status, insurance, food assistance, housing, transportation, and more. Having Rojas working on the community support side for the family “is huge,” Brinkhaus said. “She is building the foundation for the success of my role. It brings together all of the components that go into making a healthy, vibrant family.” Rojas explains that “If they have peace of mind that they have transportation to appointments, they have an apartment, they have someone to translate for them, help them with insurance, that creates what I call a circle of security. That leads to success.”