A teenager with chronic substance abuse who won't finish the semester because of permanent suspension; an alcoholic adult who can't make necessary daily decisions; a career-oriented woman who feels she cannot go on living.
Although each person is in a different crisis, there is one place that can guide each one to a healthy life: NorthCare, a behavioral health center that provides outpatient services to families throughout Oklahoma.
Since 1980, NorthCare has taught youth and adults the tools to live more positive, productive lives. The organization served 80 adults in its first year.
"We just updated the numbers at (a recent) board meeting, and in the last 12 months, we served 14,000 Oklahomans," said Clark Grothe, chief operating officer. "Unfortunately, the demand keeps climbing."
To continue addressing the community's growing number of mental health and substance abuse needs, NorthCare offers a variety of programs, along with outpatient counseling, crisis intervention and trauma counseling. With nine locations statewide, the Oklahoma City organization provides 12 children and family programs, as well as 14 adult and senior programs.
Partnership programs extend its reach. One is the Crisis Intervention Services for Kids. Now in its third year, the mobile crisis unit that can travel to a child who is experiencing a psychological, emotional or behavioral crisis.
"Anyone can access us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," Grothe said. "A clinician can assess them on-site. This helps prevent the disruption of removing them from school, home or day care."
NorthCare also partners with the Oklahoma County Detention Center and a state agency to give alternative treatment options for those incarcerated. The Day Reporting program offers therapeutic and supervision services. Another program works with the district attorney to counsel children involved with alleged cases of abuse and neglect.
"We are the primary counseling organization that deals with the children," said Grothe.
The Wellness Recovery Action Plan " aka WRAP " is designed for those with mental health difficulties who want a self-management and recovery system that incorporates wellness tools and strategies into daily life.
"We instill hope," said Janette McKeever, who teaches WRAP. "People do get better from mental illness."
McKeever explained that NorthCare gives people the tools they need to lead healthy lives.
"Getting treatment is one of the biggest barriers," she said. "I want people to get the help they need and not be ashamed they have a mental illness. This place (NorthCare) saves lives."
Funding for the programs is derived from several sources, including state contracts, foundation grants, United Way and private funds.
Last December, NorthCare held its first annual fundraising event, the Reindeer Run. With 300 entries and more than $4,000 raised, it was deemed a success.
"For about 99 percent of our services, there is no charge to the family," Grothe said. "That is why fundraising is so important. We hope to make it an annual event for many years to come."
NorthCare employs more than 300 people and also uses volunteers. Donations are accepted. The organization lists specific needs on its website, www.northcare.com. "Gina A. Dabney
photo Clark Grothe. photo/Marianne Pickens