Ephrata Public Library is offering a space where anyone can quickly and discreetly connect with a mental health professional to ask questions and learn about support services.
The Talk Tank is a soundproof booth equipped with an iPad where people can connect with a mental health professional from WellSpan Philhaven. The interaction is designed to last five to 15 minutes.
The library at 550 S. Reading Road in Ephrata Borough is a perfect location for the Talk Tank because it is a community building that is accessible to everyone, according to Adam Miller, director of WellSpan Philhaven’s Access Center.
“You don’t have to make an appointment. With the pandemic, so many more telehealth services are now available,” Miller said. “People are able to access counseling and therapy on their phone or computer. This is very similar to that, but as a place to get started and get hooked up with those services.”
The Talk Tank concept grew from ideas Northern Lancaster Hub was considering to better connect area residents with mental health services. The library is a member of the Northern Lancaster Hub, which is a community partnership of organizations that includes WellSpan Philhaven and WellSpan Health.
Ron Vogt funded the booth in memory of his wife, Laurie Vogt, a WellSpan Philhaven therapist who died from breast cancer in 2019. The Vogts often frequented Ephrata Public Library.
“Laurie would be ecstatic. My wife was always known as someone to have real conversations about real things. She always had a heart for people who were struggling,” Vogt, a psychologist, said. “I hope it meets a need for people to access services. Too many people wait too long to reach out for help.”
Northern Lancaster Hub coordinator Kelly Ernst Warner’s office at the library is across the hall from the Talk Tank. Noting the pandemic, she said people need the Talk Tank now more than ever.
“We actually found that the silver lining to this pandemic was allowing telehealth to become not just a novelty part of medicine but a reality in most people’s medical lives,” Ernst Warner said. “This is an easy way for people to access health care that a lot of times people still feel very ashamed about. So, we’re very proud to be able to bring this to our community.”
Miller said he hopes the initiative can erase some barriers to the stigma around mental health treatment and that the Talk Tank can be replicated in other public areas to continue to increase the availability and accessibility of mental health care.
“It's not our end goal to stop with helping one person, but one person at a time we’ll make a difference,” Miller said.
To contact the WellSpan Philhaven Access Center, call 800-932-0359 or for more information on accessing care visit wellspanphilhaven.org/Get-Help/Access-to-Care.