Cover Stories

Strength and Support: Provident

Maintaining good mental health can be a delicate balancing act, especially when major stress-inducing challenges arise. The key is timely access to services that help maintain equilibrium, but it’s not always easy for people to admit when they need that kind of assistance. Staff members at Provident, a behavioral health nonprofit, want the public to know that asking for help is a sign of strength and resilience.

Provident offers counseling, crisis intervention, psychiatric care and community services along with advocacy and training programs to help people of all ages achieve better mental health. Board chair Edward Lawlor says the organization’s after-school programs give kids access to important services, and a crisis hotline (314.647.4357) connects people in need with critical assistance. A recent addition to Provident, the Mary Ryder Home, provides a safe haven for vulnerable senior women.

“We do our best to locate government and private support, but the most visible part of our annual fundraising is the upcoming Spirit of Provident gala, which will be virtual for the second year in a row,” Lawlor notes. The livestream event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 5, with a special focus on recognizing frontline staff members’ efforts during the pandemic. He says there will be an exciting lineup of special guests and activities, and many supporters plan to organize watch parties with friends
and family.

Holding the event online improves accessibility on two fronts, according to Lawlor. It means more guests can enjoy the gala, and that means wider access to services for people in need. “We realized last year that we were able to reach quite a few supporters who could not have come to St. Louis for a live event,” he says. There also are cost savings in presenting the gala virtually, so more of the organization’s funding can go toward programs and services.

Among Provident’s newest service offerings is its Access Center on Olive Street downtown, which provides an immediate connection to counseling regardless of a person’s ability to pay. Raising funding for this facility will be another key focus of the gala, and in the coming months, the organization also plans to expand existing programs like its mental health services for older adults.

“This year has been an important one in behavioral health with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and sports figures and celebrities speaking publicly about their mental health challenges,” Lawlor says. “There is an increased demand for services, and we are expecting our crisis line calls to total between 60,000 and 70,000 this year. We want to emphasize that behavioral health challenges should be top of mind for everyone, as they affect people from all walks of life. The Spirit of Provident gala aims to increase visibility of mental health issues and the services we have available to address them. It’s a subject that needs to be talked about openly so we can rally around those who need help.”

Provident will present its virtual Spirit of Provident gala at 7 p.m. Feb. 5. The event raises critical funding for the nonprofit’s behavioral health programs and services. Pictured on the cover: Provident staff. For more information about the event, call 314.802.2581 or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo courtesy of Provident

Pictured at top: Staff members at Provident’s Access Center
Photo courtesy of Provident


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