ELLSWORTH, Wis. -- Maintaining one’s mental health can be challenging during a pandemic. Courtney Brunner opened her therapy practices May 5 to be another resource for Ellsworth residents.

Brunner was going to open her business last year but postponed her plans when she discovered that she was pregnant with twins. Now Brunner is leasing an office in the Ellsworth Chiropractic and Wellness Center and is open for business.

“I’m definitely taking new clients, I have immediate openings,” Brunner said.

The first couple of weeks have been slow for CB Therapy Group, according to Brunner. Along with in-person visits, Brunner meets with individuals via Telehealth or on the phone. These modes of communication have been widely adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When I’m talking with other therapists in the area it’s been really popular,” Brunner SAID. For her practice, however, there has not been an influx of Telehealth meetings. Brunner speculates that this mode of communication is not as popular among older generations as in-person meetings are.

Even if getting started is a little slow, Brunner is happy that she opened her business.

“I’m a lifetime resident of Ellsworth so it just felt like providing services close to home, for our own community. There’s definitely a shortage I would say of therapists in the area,” she said, adding, “I feel fortunate to be able to provide that service, especially during this time in the world.”

Along with running a private practice, Brunner works at Westfields Hospital and Clinic in New Richmond. There she provides mental health services for oncology patients.

“Through that work I just identified a huge need for support, especially for the oncology patients, and so that kind of morphed into our area needing more mental health,” Brunner explained.

A 2019 report by the Wisconsin Hospital Association points to the need for more mental health providers:

“Unless Wisconsin addresses this shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, Wisconsin faces a future of declining accessibility to mental health services caused by a lack of psychiatrists to meet the patient demand and the cascading impact of patients needing care that just isn’t available.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services noted in September 2019 that Pierce County would need at least 3.87 more mental health professionals to fill the shortage of providers here.

Brunner is in the process of becoming credentialed with most major health insurers. She can accept Medicare.

The shortage of mental health providers and the pandemic did not hinder Brunner’s decision to open her own practice. She explained:

“It kind of just inspired me to keep moving forward and doing what I can.”