A single mom who just lost her job, an elderly woman with no one to turn to during the holidays, a college-aged man afraid to tell his parents he’s failing in school and in relationships—these are just a few examples of the type of people that Provident Behavioral Health helps every single day. The nonprofit serves St. Louis through telehealth services as well as face-to-face programs at its three offices and various other locations in the community. Since the pandemic, the number of individuals in need of mental health support services has increased.

Provident has been around since 1860 and is the local 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline crisis center, serving as the sole backup center in Missouri and one of only 14 nationwide. In addition to suicide prevention services, the organization provides counseling, psychiatric services, 24/7 crisis support, school-based programming and residential services for older women through the Mary Ryder Home. More than half of the clients who receive care through Provident come from
low-income families or from households earning less than $30,000. Through grants and donations, some services are offered for as little as $5.

“The Barnes-Jewish Hospital 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategy ranked mental health as the top health need for adults in St. Louis,” says Julie McDowell, director of advancement at Provident. “In particular, it noted ‘emergency department staff do not feel equipped to manage those who present with acute mental illness,’ highlighting a need for services to address these types of crises. The New York Times recently published an extensive series on the mental health crisis, and the Surgeon General has declared child and adolescent mental health to be a national emergency.”

The impact of Provident’s services is clear, according to board chair Edward Lawlor, Ph.D. “A significant number of suicides have been prevented among families who have been able to get the tool kits for their kids, also helping them stay in school,” he notes. “And many of the women who live at Mary Ryder think of it as their family and their home.”

To make its life-changing and life-saving services possible, Provident relies on community support. Its largest annual fundraiser is the Spirit of Provident Gala, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta. Many individuals who have made a difference will be recognized, and the event will feature a program of video testimonials from those who have benefited from the organization’s programs. The evening will be emceed by Tom Ackerman of KMOX and will include a silent auction, live auction and fund-a-need at the event.

“There has been a tremendous increase in the demand for mental health services since COVID-19 and athletes like Simone Biles raising awareness about the issues,” Lawlor says. “Our upcoming gala will raise money that allows us to expand our mental health services in the community and provide access to individuals and families.”

Provident Behavioral Health offers exceptional behavioral health services to those with the greatest need. Its Spirit of Provident Gala is Feb. 4 at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta. Pictured on the cover: Honorary event chairs Edward and Betsy Lawlor. For more information, call 314.533.8200 or visit providentstl.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at the top: Provident Behavioral Health offers life-saving mental health services.
Photo courtesy of Provident Behavioral Health