Health Care

Therapy Franchise Owner Opens Clinic In Wilmington With Plans For More

By Cece Nunn, posted Mar 1, 2023

At a time when it's needed the most, mental health care can be difficult to come by.

New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties are designated as mental health professional shortage areas, notes a Rural Health Information Hub map

To capture some of the area’s demand for mental health care, a therapy clinic opened an office recently in Wilmington.

Kyle Kirby, local franchise owner of Ellie Mental Health, said the clinic at 2460 Delaney Ave. is the first of four he wants to set up in the area.

“It's a sad situation, really, because people are seeking mental health help,” Kirby said Wednesday. “They may find a place and then there’s a three-month waitlist or they can’t find anybody, and so we're just trying to do our part to fill the gap to make mental health care more available.”

A 2021 survey of members by the American Psychological Association “found a surge in demand and new referrals, particularly for anxiety, depressive and trauma-related disorders. Yet 65% of the more than 1,100 psychologists who responded said they had no capacity for new patients and 68% said their wait lists were longer than they were in 2020,” according to a Washington Post article from March 2022.

Depression, anxiety and substance abuse are among the problems the six licensed counselors at Ellie Mental Health's Wilmington location can address, Kirby said. 

Kirby isn’t a counselor, but he’s not a stranger to the health care industry, having spent 30 years as a pharmaceutical rep before retiring from Pfizer in Wilmington.

Founded in Minnesota in 2015, Ellie Mental Health began offering franchise opportunities in 2021 and has more than 500 locations in the U.S.

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