Walk-In Mental Health Clinics: A Concept

Recently I read a blog by Arthur Gallant entitled, “ Why Don’t We Have Walk-In Mental Health Clinics for People with Mental Illness?” and it really got me thinking about this concept. The author of the blog resides in Canada, a country whose health system is rather defined and accepted compared to our health system in America, which seems to always be in disarray. It was stated that we have walk-in clinics for those in need with physical health problems, but why can’t we have the same system set up for mental health problems?

In our society mental heath has such a negative stigma attached to it that some view it was taboo to even talk about let alone saying that you need help for it, however, there exists a chunk of our population that does not focus on the stigma. This population understands mental healthcare is important and seek out help when necessary for it, no strings attached. Some individuals walk into our offices confident and ready to dive into their mental struggles, while others are less enthusiastic, nervous, or flat out scared due to the stigma that’s attached from it. Something such as, “Oh my God you see a therapist? Do you think you’re crazy or something?” lingers in the back of their minds making them second guess why they’re even coming.

I respect each individual’s views on the topic of mental health and I know we all have our own personal opinion on the topic, my worry is that the negative opinions sometimes may outweigh the positive which may result in grants being cut, mental health facilities having to down size, and fewer options for mental health help in the communities. I love the idea of a walk-in mental health clinic for individuals who are in need, but are not considered too severe and may need to go to the hospital for suicidal or homicidal ideation.

mental health

Currently the only option for a “walk-in” idea is hospitalization; the client has to be in such a severe state of mind and have possible suicidal/homicidal ideations to even be admitted and see a therapist. But what about smaller circumstances? What about an individual who just got fired from their job and feel hopeless and terrified? Or the individual who just experienced a death of a loved one and is having a tough time processing the event? Where can they get a walk-in therapy session?

The way I envision this project would look like this: An individual struggling with something decides to seek out help, if even only for one day for a single session. They drive to a walk-in mental health clinic. The clinic is discrete, a building that may look like your regular office building or other generic comfortable building in the community, but it doesn’t scream, “MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC” on the outside, but something far less invasive so they know they’re in the right place. They can walk in and go to a desk where they can confidentially talk to an office manager about the needs that they are looking for and that manager can assign the client to a therapist/psychologist on staff that would be a good fit for the client’s needs. The client can decide if he/she wants to continuously come back or if they just needed that one session to help them for the day. Since it is a walk-in clinic insurance is accepted, but also out of pocket and sliding scale options for those to may not have those means.

This idea seems so innocent but in all actuality would but such a large hurdle for our society to overcome. Firstly, getting the money, grants, and overall financial support to open such a facility would be needed and in our society mental health finances are already spread horribly thin. Second, we would need to find therapists/psychologists that would be interested in off the seat of your pants scheduling, and would the clinic be 24 hours like most health clinics? That would stretch the thin line even more.  These hurdles can definitely be overcome, but the motivation and support would need to be there.

Hopefully one day we will be able to have facilities such as these in our communities so we can offer more than just a hospital setting for those people looking for walk-in therapy appointments. Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later, and to get this started lets first focus on the stigma and pay attention to how we may contribute to any negativity surrounding mental health care. This process takes one step at a time, and the first step to acceptance of mental health needs in our society and the understanding that such facilities really need to exist to help these needs. One step at a time…


no more stigma



A Gallant. (2015, April 4). Why Don’t We Have Mental Health Walk In Clinics for People With Mental Illness?. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/arthur-gallant/mental-illness-canada_b_6595866.html