When your child is having a mental health crisis, the last thing he needs is to have to wait weeks to get on a mental health professional’s appointment book — or linger in a hospital emergency room with people waiting to be treated for physical injuries and illnesses. Like physical ailments, when a mental health issue is urgent, the care must be, too.
Ari Hirt recently opened MindMD, a local walk-in wellness clinic that aims to “meet the needs of the now” by offering same-day psychiatric services for children ages 10 to 17, as well as adults. Patients can choose in-person and telehealth visits for, among other issues, anxiety and stress, substance abuse and addiction and grief and loss.
“We’ve found that patients just don’t want to stop their lives and go to an in-patient program,” says Hirt, MindMD’s CEO. Hirt formerly ran an in-patient addiction treatment facility in Pismo Beach, but became frustrated over time as many patients were not willing to commit to the 30-day program. “Many patients just don’t want to stop their lives for 30 days when they have to work, care for children, and it would just really be a pause before [substance abuse] started back up again.”
Hirt says that as an “ideas man,” he started developing the concept for MindMD before the pandemic, and that he has seen the need for urgent mental healthcare skyrocket. “As a parent, you’re only starting to see the effects of [the pandemic] on children.”
His co-founder, Jessie Martori, is a registered nurse who previously worked at a psych hospital. Their long-term goal is to expand MindMD by opening up more facilities.
“We chose this area because it’s pretty centrally located, and it’s street level, making it more accessible and less intimidating,” Martori says.
Making mental healthcare more inviting is important for the kind of patients they are especially hoping to help: adolescents and their families. As soon as you walk into the lobby of MindMD, the sounds from a large, cascading waterfall washes over you, providing a calming effect. In addition to this seating area, Hirt and Martori designed the facility “around privacy.” There are other entry points that lead to hallways with more discreet waiting rooms, especially for younger patients. The muted aqua and gray walls merge with stylish sofas for a look that is crisp and clean but not overly clinical. And there are “relaxation pods” with massage chairs and meditation music. “We didn’t want it to feel like a doctor’s office and didn’t want it to feel overly spa-like either,” Hirt says. “There is medicine taking place here.”
With psychiatrists and an internal medical specialist on staff, MindMD offers outpatient detoxification, case management, individual, couples and family therapy and medication management, as well as yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness classes.
MindMD is located at 8500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 103, in Beverly Hills. While the clinic will submit health insurance claims for plans that offer out-of-network benefits, there are out-of-the-pocket fees. For pricing and other information, visit mindmdwellness.com.