Prody ends career of helping othersPublished 11:01am Monday, April 22, 2013
It was a work study opportunity at Nycklemoe law firm 43 years ago that first introduced Barb Prody to mental health services. Over that time, the field has changed dramatically, but for Prody, it has been the personal interaction with people that has kept her passionate all these years.
Prody, who grew up in Barnesville, first started with Lakeland Mental Health in the early 1970s when much of her work was still done at the state hospital. As she learned from psychologists and made her way through the center, Prody gained an interest in helping different patients and was moved to the position she will be leaving, the Intake-Special Services Coordinator.
Over her years, Prody has monitored everyone from sex offenders, troubled youth and those with serious mental issues who are hesitant to reach out for help.
“I like the bad boys,” Prody joked. “But I like doing the intake and talking to different people, helping those with initial contact and getting people to come.”
With every person she has helped over the years, Prody has seen the field change drastically. Not only has the day-to-day office routine changed, but the approach to patients has evolved over the years.
“We used to have to make appointments by hand in a book, with no computers, obviously,” Prody said. “There was no medical insurance back then either, and most of people were covered by state grants for services. People would only pay a dollar or two and feel guilty, so they would bring in something like a sack of potatoes for us to make up for it.”
Prody also said there are a number of psychiatric services now that were not offered when she started, and things like childhood development were just starting to become a focus and are still evolving to this day. But through it all, insurance coverage to mental health services has been the biggest change Prody said she’s witnessed.
Patients’ approach the center has also changed dramatically.
“There was definitely a stigma there,” Prody said. “People were OK for bringing their children in, but for themselves, to come in for depression or anxiety or marriage counseling, they would go out of town.”
When she finally leaves Lakeland Mental Health at the end of the month, Prody said she will have to find work around Battle Lake, where she and her husband live, just to stay busy. But the intimate interaction with people she had will never be replicated.
“I’ll miss the social aspect,” Prody said. “It it’s not with the people here, than it’s the knowledge I’ve gotten and the wisdom of all the psychologists and workers. I’ve learned a lot along the way.”
While some might find it hard to believe all the years of a stressful careers haven’t been too overwhelming, Prody said she cherishes each and every person she’s worked with.
“I’ve been sworn at and hung up on many times, but I just had to try and listen,” Prody said. “I will miss that. So, as I go on to the next chapter of my life, I thank all of them for those memories.”