Originally published for 5280 Magazine.
This Denver-based nonprofit is partnering with local businesses and houses of worship to make counseling more accessible and affordable for Front Range residents.
It’s no secret healthcare is expensive, especially for people who can’t rely on insurance to cover certain needs. In Colorado, where mental health services have been out of reach for tens of thousands of people, one local nonprofit is doing its part to make counseling sessions more affordable and accessible throughout the Denver metro area and beyond. Khesed Wellness, which was founded in 2016, offers a unique model that helps them keep costs down and provide cheap—sometimes free—sessions to people in need of mental health services.
Partnering with local businesses, counseling offices, and houses of worship (like the Highlands Church in Denver) that donate their space, Khesed has seven locations throughout the Front Range and is able to offer sessions at $60 per hour to 80 percent of their clients, while the other 20 percent receive pro-bono counseling. The nonprofit’s new location in Aurora, which opened in February, is now helping to provide access to veteran and immigrant populations. And in an effort to fully support all of their locations, Khesed is in the midst of a campaign to raise $10,000 by May 15.
The organization’s goal is to remove roadblocks for clients so they can get the support they need, according to Heather Lundy, Khesed’s founder and CEO. Those main roadblocks, she says, are affordability, accessibility, and the response time from when a client initially reaches out until they are contacted by a counselor.
Khesed is able to keep overhead costs down primarily by using donated space, and therefore the number of sessions they offer varies on a weekly basis. The organization also employs a team of counselors who are fulfilling their hourly requirements in order to complete masters or doctorate programs—a model that has been used by other institutions in Denver, as well. According to Lundy, the clinicians at Khesed—two of whom are full-time and seven of whom are part-time—have a range of experience, but all enjoy a balanced workload to avoid burnout.
According to Lundy, working with partner organizations in Front Range communities is one of the best ways to increase access to mental health services—particularly to people who are not yet in crisis but still need help. “Local communities are our greatest advocate to encourage positive mental health for their neighborhoods,” she says. “Mental health care isn’t just for when you hit that crisis and you don’t care how much debt you accrue when you just need help.”
Lundy recognizes that solving the state’s mental health crisis will require enormous work from many different parties over a long period of time, especially in Colorado, where healthcare costs are higher than in most other states. She hopes Khesed can play its part and, little by little, help patients thrive on a daily basis, rather than merely survive.
Get Involved: Khesed Wellness has locations in Aurora, Arvada, Colorado Springs, Littleton, and several in Denver. To learn more about their work, schedule an appointment, donate office space, or contribute to their $10,000 goal, visit khesedwellness.com.