by Tessandra de Alberdi
In 1959, our community members used their passion and resources to establish our private not-for-profit agency. The founders were determined that here on Nantucket—an island 30 miles out to sea—no one would have to go without access to quality clinical services. We still believe that everyone deserves care, regardless of language spoken, country of origin, insurance coverage, or ability to pay.
Since that time, we have remained steadfast in our mission. Over the last sixty years, nationally and across the Commonwealth, many small rural care agencies have closed their doors. They were either acquired by large for-profit monopolies, or could no longer sustain themselves due to the amount of free care they provided.
Fairwinds has weathered that storm and is still owned and operated by Nantucketers on-island. We are proud to offer services in five different languages and offer fees that slide down to zero dollars to ensure no one is turned away.
Today, we still provide evidence-based clinical outpatient therapy to individuals, couples, siblings and families, but there is so much more. We meet clients when they are at a crossroads, struggling with anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, grief, addiction, and trauma. That often means in-home behavioral healthcare for youth and their caregivers. It also means peer recovery support, therapeutic mentoring, court-ordered care, driver alcohol education and second offender aftercare, the diagnosis of learning differences and emotional disorders in children, a mentoring program for children in the schools (including breakfast buddies and homework help), an always-free, walk-in urgent care clinic, and much more. We are the only island provider of adult and child psychiatry services and have two prescribers on staff.
In all these programs, we serve hundreds of individuals every year. Our clinical staff includes a core management team, paraclinical bachelors-level staff, licensed clinical social workers, mental health counselors, addiction specialists, clinical psychologists, a psychiatrist, and a neuro-developmental pediatrician. We also have a fabulous Seconds Shop thrift store that underpins some of our free services.
We believe in lowering stigma, increasing help-seeking behavior, and providing clinical interventions that can create lasting, meaningful change in people’s lives. As thought leaders, we also try to bring conversations that matter to our community. At Fairwinds, we believe mental health and all substance-misuse are on a continuum. Clinical treatment helps all of us become our best selves.
Tessandra de Alberdi MS, CRC, LMHC, LADCI has been the Executive Director of Fairwinds-Nantucket’s Counseling Center since 2013. Tess has a BS in biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She has an MS in rehabilitation counseling and psychology. After extensive research and direct therapy practice for individuals with addiction and trauma, Tess moved to Nantucket from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Tess is passionate and committed to improving mental health services for all island residents. As the Executive Director and practitioner in the community, her goals are to increase community collaboration, lowering stigma around mental health and substance misuse, expanding interdisciplinary wrap-around clinical care, and ensuring the financial sustainability of the agency.