GC offers services despite cuts

A local nonprofit behavioral health organization welcomes those who need their services, despite budget cuts up to 11 percent.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health has seen their budget cut by $25 million over the last several years, said Joy Sloan, chief executive officer of Green Country Behavioral Health Services. As a result, her organization has seen cuts of up to 11 percent.

Since about 2011, the organization has been “hugely” affected with one adult program cut and caps placed on programs and services like individual and family therapy, and group and rehabilitative services.

“Case management services is a huge help to those we serve and a core service, but even a cap had to be placed on that,” Sloan said.

GCBHS clinical staff provides a wide array of behavioral health and substance use programs to adults and children since 1979. They also provide integrated health care through referrals to an on-site medical clinic.

Despite significant program and services cuts, Sloan says that their door is always open to anyone who needs assistance with behavioral health and/or substance use needs — regardless of income or payee source — but the majority of who they serve have no other resources for assistance.

While Green Country does take some insurance, everyone is seen with payment based on a sliding scale.

The organization also runs a 15-bed crisis unit that serves the most urgent of those with behavioral health issues.

“We never turn away anyone for screening, referral or crisis,” Sloan said.

All of their outpatient and crisis services were recently certified with special distinction by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health, said Cheryl Nelson, compliance officer.

The organization is one of the first in Oklahoma to integrate everyone into behavioral, substance abuse and primary health care services.

“We’ve found that it’s very important for clients to have their behavioral and physical health needs met at the same time,” said Melissa Shofner, GCBHS Clinical Director.

Case managers link up families with whatever resources they need, be it enrolling for a GED certificate or college classes, arrange for transportation to medical appointments, provide access to housing or work with families on their goals.

GCBHS is grantee for Muskogee County Head Start and Early Head Start. Christin Bolinger serves as director of these programs.

Sloan addressed the issue about the public having a stigma about mental health.

“There continues to be public stigma when it comes to mental health or substance use needs – the unknown causes people fear, and I believe that’s what causes most of the stigma,” she said. “Education and knowledge is always a good deterrent to the unknown.”

Learn more:

WHAT: Green Country Behavioral Health Services.

WHERE: 619 N. Main St.

WHEN: 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

INFORMATION: http://www.gcbhs.org/ or (918) 682-8407.

CRISIS HOTLINE: 24/7 assistance at (918) 682-8407.

Original article by Mark Hughes appearing in the Muskogee Phoenix 6/12/17.