Edmund needs more suppliers, capacity

Edmond Mayor Darrell Davis speaks at the University of Central Oklahoma Performance Center on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (Joe Tomlinson)

An organization that conducted a citywide mental health assessment says Edmond needs to expand its capacity of counselors, therapists and other care providers to meet the needs of the community.

Although they say the findings are troubling, city officials acknowledged Edmond’s lack of services in August when they voted to spend $1 million to renovate a building at 15th Street and Kelly Avenue to be used as a community mental health center .

Edmond community leaders and stakeholders helped the Healthy Minds Policy Initiative—an Oklahoma-based mental and behavioral health policy think tank—create the final report and action plan, which found that 22 percent of Edmond residents experience some kind of mental illness. Similarly, 10 percent of Edmond residents experience a serious substance abuse disorder, said Zach Stoikoff, executive director of HMPI.

“Ten thousand [Edmond] residents are experiencing a substance use disorder or some serious mental illness,” Stoikoff said during a brief press conference Thursday morning on the University of Central Oklahoma campus. “These are big challenges that our communities and our systems are not set up to deal with.”

While those numbers are in line with national averages, Edmond is not currently equipped to address those challenges, Stoikoff said, citing a lack of available local mental health providers.

“How accessible are mental health providers?” asked Stoikoff. “How many community residents, adults and children are receiving services and where are they going? Do they have to go out of town to get these services? The answer is yes. They make.”

Stoikoff said a lack of local crisis response resources means many Edmond residents, especially children, end up receiving care in the emergency room.

“We have about 1,500 Edmond kids who suffer from major depressive disorder, things that potentially pose risks for suicide,” Stoikoff said. “We see it in our schools and we see it in our emergency room — kids show up in the emergency room because they have nowhere else to go.”

In the executive summary of the action report (embedded below), HMPI listed three key findings from the evaluation:

  • Access to behavioral health services in Edmond has multiple barriers, including lack of local service providers, cost of obtaining services and transportation to Oklahoma City for more intensive services;
  • Children and youth with behavioral health problems are particularly vulnerable to these barriers to access;
  • Stigma is a barrier to recognizing and seeking care for behavioral health conditions.

Addressing stigma, Edmonds Mayor Darrell Davis called on the city’s residents to break down negative social perceptions surrounding mental health.

“Don’t be embarrassed that your town, your city, your friend, your parent, you have some kind of mental health problem,” Davis said. “Let’s continue to have these discussions to break down these social barriers that exist. Let’s tear down the walls. Let’s continue the communication that is necessary to make this happen.”

The city of Edmond awarded $175,000 in funding from the America’s Rescue Plan Act to pay for the city-wide HMPI mental health assessment. HMPI will present a presentation on the findings of the Community Behavioral Health Assessment at Monday’s Edmond City Council meeting.

NorthCare is an “incredibly integral part” of the plan

Edmund's mental health
Zach Stoikoff, executive director of the Healthy Minds Policy Initiative, speaks at the University of Central Oklahoma Performance Center on Thursday, September 22, 2022. (Joe Tomlinson)

The City Council voted in August to award $1 million in ARPA money to NorthCare, a community mental health center. The funds are being used to renovate a building located at 15th Street and Kelly Avenue that NorthCare had already purchased.

The NorthCare facility will be an “incredibly integral part” of the action plan developed by HMPI, Stoikoff said.

Edmond has a variety of mental health care organizations to serve the Edmond community, such as the Green Shoe Foundation, which provides five-day outpatient retreats, and Arcadia Trails, which administers residential treatment, as well as outpatient and partial hospitalization programs.

Mental Health Resources:

• 988 Lifeline
• Arcadian paths
• Edmond’s Family Counseling
• Green Shoe Foundation
• Psychology Today

However, as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC), NorthCare has the ability to provide a wide range of services, Stoikoff said. These services include crisis intervention services, treatment planning, targeted case management, family support and counseling services, among others.

“They provide a full spectrum of services, not just talk therapy, but multidisciplinary teams, mobile crisis response — things like that,” Stoikoff said.

Connie Schlitler, a licensed clinical social worker who serves as NorthCare’s vice president of growth, said the goal is to have the facility completed and open by January 2023.

“Our mandate is to serve Edmond. There really is no other mental health center in the state that is designed to serve this community,” Schlittler said.

Schlittler said NorthCare’s “goal” is to help everyone who walks through their doors. NorthCare’s website states that they provide “services to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay.”

“Anybody in the community can come and we’ll help you get to programs like Arcadia Trails, Edmond Family Counseling or whatever other services are available in the community,” Schlittler said.

Read HMPI’s final report and action plan

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