Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge is launching a new counseling division next week to help the growing number of Minnesotans struggling with mental health issues.

The Twin Cities nonprofit, which has provided substance abuse services for four decades, is opening RockBridge Counseling and Mental Health Services on Jan. 24 to offer outpatient services in Crystal, Maplewood and Lakeville to children over the age of 12 and adults.

"This is a very unique model and I don't know if there's anything else like it out there," CEO Tom Truszinski said of the array of faith-based services that Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge will provide to some 4,000 Minnesotans this year. "It's really an untapped market that I think the community is crying out for."

The nonprofit has long provided mental health services to people struggling with substance abuse, so it's a natural next step to offer general help with mental health, Truszinski said. People seeking a counseling appointment might wait three to six months or longer, he added, so improving access to mental health help will be beneficial and could even prevent future substance abuse.

At RockBridge, four employees will offer telehealth and in-person counseling to an estimated 300 people this year. Dr. Anna Ramos, the director of clinical services, hopes to double the staff by the end of the year, but said it's difficult to fill jobs as nonprofits face unprecedented workforce shortages and growing burnout.

"It is challenging to continue to meet the need," she said of rising mental health issues. "I think a lot of people just need additional support while they're going through different phases of their life."

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, which has 14 residential locations throughout the state, later this year will open residential treatment facilities for men in Alexandria and a women's center in Brainerd. Truszinski said the new facilities will help fill a void in substance abuse resources in rural Minnesota.