Oklahoma Spotlight: Prioritizing Behavioral Health through Collaboration

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The Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative (ABHC) is a community initiative to improve overall health and wellness in Carter County. ABHC promotes a Wellness Oriented Trauma-Informed Community (WOTIC), as behavioral health and unresolved trauma are public health problems in our communities.

Watch this video to learn more about the initiative.

The coalition’s goals are to:

  1. Empower individuals and families to improve health and wellness through resource connection and planning.
  2. Increase cross-sector understanding of the impacts of behavioral health in the community and support planning to systems seeking change.
  3.  Coordinate collaborative efforts community individuals and organizations to facilitate discussion, provide analysis, make recommendations, and implement changes as necessary to improve health and wellness for Carter County.


How has this initiative impacted the quality of life for the identified target audience?

The effort is comprehensive. Workgroups are working on coordinated/integrated health care processes, community education and intensive workplace wellness programs. We have officially been implementing programs and undergoing planning for about three years.


What outcomes have been achieved?

Short-term successes include increased collaboration between social service agencies and the medical community, the establishment of trauma-informed learning and policy development in worksites and agencies, formalized communication between law enforcement and our mental health agencies.

Worksite policies have been changed, established or enhanced to integrate behavioral wellness and learning across all sectors in our community. One of our biggest examples of success is the Wellness Program at First National Bank. Since including behavioral health as a priority in their wellness program, First National Bank has seen positive participation in wellness events and chaplain services, overall new ways of thinking when approaching problems in the workplace and increased employee awareness around emotional wellness. Other organizations in the community have implemented the same successful service or are looking at similar ideas to create a healthier, more trauma-informed environment for staff.

Trauma-informed practices or principles are being implemented in at least five key health care settings in Ardmore. One school has officially signed up to be a trauma safe school. Other school districts are reaching out to ABHC to plan, develop or implement trauma-informed processes for specific situations. Our low-income community clinic offers a total body wellness experience for all employees and to customers during over 6,771 yearly patient encounters. Client/customer interactions are being approached by ABHC partners with a new understanding. Employee self-care and agency missions have changed to incorporate brain health and emotional support as key topics.


How is this initiative being sustained?

Local foundations and funders have already invested $650,000 in this multi-sector collaborative approach to system change. ABHC contracted with a national consultant to help guide and inform the initial planning and implementation phase.

Changing the way we think or treat people rarely costs money. It takes time and leadership. We definitely have both. The leaders refuse to let cost stand in the way of success. As we find barriers we work together to find funding, or we change processes to leverage resources or we learn new ways to do something. Some aspects of our collaborative will result in billable services provided by our health and mental health fields. Plus, overall outcomes should improve.



To learn more about this community effort, or to get involved, visit the Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative (ABHC) on the web, or contact Ashley Godwin, Director. The ACEs Connection webpage has pertinent information about adversities, trauma-informed care, and resilience.


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