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New building, more services: Lakeland Mental Health Center moves to new location

Lakeland Mental Health Center opened the doors to its new facility at 702 34th Avenue E. in Alexandria this spring. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 1 / 3
The new Lakeland Mental Health Center in Alexandria, with its neutral, more natural environment color palette, offers a comfortable space for its clients and staff. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 2 / 3
The new Lakeland Mental Health Center features plenty of windows, which allow for more natural light. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 3 / 3

Nestled on a nearly 10.5-acre secluded lot, the new Lakeland Mental Health Center has opened its doors on a new 10,600-square-foot building.

Lakeland Mental Health serves six counties, and began operating in Douglas County in July 2009. It was located in several spots before finding a permanent home at 702 34th Ave. E., in Alexandria.

Prior to July 2009, Douglas County Hospital operated a mental health unit in Alexandria, according to Teresa Budke, Lakeland Mental Health administrative and marketing specialist.

The land for the new building was purchased in October 2016 and the building process began in April 2017, with the facility opening its doors March 10.

In Douglas County, Lakeland Mental Health's primary service is outpatient clinical services. It also provides school-based clinical services and psychiatry services with medical providers.

Among its services are individual and family therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, psychiatric assessments, medication management and various psychological evaluations for children and adults.

Last year in Douglas County, Lakeland served 1,221 clients and provided 9,364 visits with clients, according to Budke. Across the whole agency, she said it served 8,514 clients and provided 137,710 visits.

There are 20 clinical offices within the new building and the hope is to be able to provide more outreach services, Budke said. There are also spaces for private meetings, group meetings and also rooms set up with televisions so that clients can have teleconference appointments with doctors from different locations.

"Telehealth for psychiatry services are offered to provide more access to specialty services across all of Lakeland Mental Health offices," Budke said.

One specialized service offered by Lakeland Mental Health is dialectical behavior therapy. Michael Flaten, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said this group-based program is designed to teach skills in four different areas — mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation and distress tolerance.

"With core mindfulness, we help people become masters of their own mind," said Flaten. "We want to help people get through their reality. We help them regulate or manage their extreme behaviors so that they get their needs and wants met without incidence."

One of the goals of dialectical behavior therapy, which is mostly needed by those who struggle with borderline personality disorder, is to improve the quality of life for this group of people.

Lakeland Mental Health Center is open five days a week with emergency mental health services available during business hours, as well as evenings, weekends and holidays.

For emergency services, call the center's crisis hotline at 1-800-223-4512. During normal business hours, the phone number is 320-762-2400.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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