Cover Stories

Provident Behavioral Health: Help & Support

The many stresses and difficulties presented by COVID-19 have trained an unexpected spotlight on mental health this year, prompting Provident Behavioral Health to provide more services than ever. President and executive director Kevin Drollinger says the nonprofit is equal to the challenge and remains committed to helping people weather uneasy times.

“There definitely has been more recognition of the need for mental health counseling this year,” he says. “The numbers show an increase in needed services, and we are working hard to respond.” Provident has made its counseling and psychiatric services available by videoconference, and the crisis has spurred key funders to step up in support. “We said for a long time that we wanted to move into telehealth, but some of our funding partners weren’t quite ready for that,” he explains. “Now, they see its importance and have responded wonderfully. Other services like our after-school programs and Mary Ryder Home residential care for senior women have shown great flexibility in continuing to care for clients as well.”

The organization had to pivot from 100% in-person counseling and psychiatric services to 100% virtual in a short time due to the pandemic. “We made about four years’ worth of telehealth planning and development happen in the space of a couple weeks,” Drollinger says. “In the last several weeks, we were able to return to in-person services for some clients, but with recently revised guidelines, we have reverted to our phase one virtual-only plan.” In addition to counseling and psychiatric services, Provident staffs a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, 1.800.273.TALK, and 30 new professionals have been hired to handle increased volume. The organization also is part of a national effort to switch the hotline to a universal 988 number that people can dial to reach mental health crisis services at any time.

To support its vital client programs, the nonprofit is planning a reimagined fundraising celebration, 60 Minutes of Hope: Celebrating the Spirit of Provident Virtual Gala, at 7 p.m. Feb. 6, 2021. Drollinger says the organization, which joined with the Mary Ryder Home last year, is looking forward to offering virtual attendees a memorable and uplifting experience from the comfort of their couches.

The fundraiser will be a YouTube event emceed by KMOX on-air personality Tom Ackerman, and it will include uplifting stories and vignettes illustrating the combined nonprofits’ successes in the community. Anyone is welcome to attend, and those who give at a certain level can enjoy the added benefit of Russo’s catered meals delivered to their homes for the event.

“We had just wrapped up our 2020 gala when the COVID-19 restrictions went into effect last March,” Drollinger says. “That meant we had plenty of time to transition to a virtual format for 2021, so we anticipate a fun, memorable experience for guests. I have been in this field a long time, and I’ve talked with a lot of people about the challenges we usually face, but I can’t quite remember a year like this one. Everyone is learning and growing together, and I think we all will be better equipped to serve others because of this unique experience.”

Provident Behavioral Health will present its 2021 fundraiser, 60 Minutes of Hope: Celebrating the Spirit of Provident Virtual Gala, at 7 p.m. Feb. 6, 2021. The online event raises critical support for the nonprofit’s services. Pictured on the cover: Frontline staff members. For more information, call 314.533.8200 or visit providentstl.org.

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

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