As someone who has lived in Williston almost all her life, Deb Lukenbill, CNS, has seen the population in the Bakken region of western North Dakota grow—and has noticed an itch that hasn’t been sufficiently scratched: the availability of behavioral health services.
Lukenbill has worked in the behavioral health field in the region since 2001, joining the staff at Trinity Community Clinic-Western Dakota earlier this year. She says Williston does not have much when it comes to behavioral health. “We don’t have enough providers. Those of us here will always have a waiting list.”
With few trained providers, behavioral health issues like evaluation and medication management are often hard to address.
“It can be difficult to find somebody,” she says. “That’s what I bring.”
Lukenbill offers solution-focused brief therapy, which concentrates on finding solutions in the present time. Oftentimes, Lukenbill will refer the patient to a therapist.
“What we do here is brief problem solving,” she explains. “Many of my patients need therapy, which is vital to improving their mental health.”
She sees patients initially to do evaluation, depending on their medication. “I might see them every three months, or every month until their medications work; after that, it depends on the patient’s needs. It varies.”
The surge in oilfield workers coming to the area not only helped bolster the population, but also the need for mental health facilities in the region. While the 2010 census states that Williston had a population of 14,716, the numbers increased sharply over the past few years. A population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau from 2015 put the population at 26,977, an increase of almost 80 percent, making Williston the sixth-largest city in North Dakota.
“As the needs go up, all the resources go down,” Lukenbill says. “We have a difficult time meeting the needs.”
“Of the people I see, many are not from North Dakota,” Lukenbill says. “I’m going to guess half of my patients have been transplanted here.”
That transplantation can be a root for mental health issues, she explains.
“Any important transition in our lives makes you vulnerable,” she says, adding that working long hours and lacking a support system can lead a person to developing anxiety and/or depression.
For an appointment or consultation with Deb, please call 701-857-5998. Her office is located at Trinity Community Clinic – Western Dakota, 1321 West Dakota Parkway, Williston.Deb Lukenbill – Meeting a Community Need