NEW ORLEANS -- A non-profit program is helping children and adults in Louisiana with the mental health services they need.

There have been many complaints since Hurricane Katrina, that there aren't enough places or doctors for mental health treatment in our area, but the Mercy Family Centers are picking up the slack.

When Linda Cocher's son was young, his developmental difficulties from birth, caused behavior problems.

"When it's your child having difficulties, there's, you know, there's some pretty dark days there," Cocher remembers.

Back then, it was hard to imagine the good life he has today.

"He has a real job. He's a valued employee. I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't had Mercy Family Center to come to for our support," Cocher said.

The Mercy Family Center on the New Orleans West Bank, and in Metairie and Mandeville, has been giving mental health treatment to children in the area for 25 years. After Hurricane Katrina, they started Project Fleur-de-Lis in schools because of post storm trauma. That program, in 65 schools, has now changed its focus.

"Like community violence, poverty, sexual abuse, drug abuse influencing the family systems," Dr. Douglas Walker, a Licensed Psychologist who is Chief Programs Director at Mercy Family Center, said about the issues causing most of the anxiety. "We are proud to serve the undeserved, and so we really have a mission here, and that is to accept everyone."

They also tutor students at the learning center. Mercy Family Centers added adult mental health treatment and support for troops and their families in the military. They also have suicide risk and assessment programs in schools.

Part of Mercy Family Center's outreach is educating parents, teachers and school counselors on how to recognize early signs of problems and how to promote wellness.

"The research shows that if we can get kids to graduate high school, their lifespan is increased by five-to-10 years. If we can keep kids in school, we prevent that classroom to prison pipeline," Dr. Walker said.

Mercy Family Centers are open to anyone and take insurance, including Medicaid. There is sliding scale for co-payments.
Mercy Family Center
3 clinics: Metairie, Mandeville, and New Orleans West Bank
(504) 838-8283

West Bank:



Oct. 7 Fundraising Gala to help the centers: