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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Staying a Step Ahead

Education and services seek to address gaps in mental health treatment

Editor’s note: Read more about Evansville’s health in the full feature story.

Mental health is a focal point in Evansville right now. Major philanthropy, programming, and targeted government spending in Evansville have gone to diagnosis and treatment. The largest donation of $34.2 million — among the biggest in the Indiana University School of Medicine’s history — in December 2021 established the Mary O’Daniel Stone and Bill Stone Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at IUSM Evansville.

Executive Director Dr. Steven Beck- er runs the initiative, with Dr. Julianne Giust as associate director. Officials say IU facilities in Indianapolis host the program’s bipolar research under Dr. Stephen Strawkowski, who was named executive director in 2022 but is no lon- ger in that position. When asked about its status more than two years after the Stone family’s gift, IUSM Evansville Director of Development and Public Relations Catherine Zimmermann said a strategic plan will be announced in late April.

Evansville received another boost with November’s opening of the University of Evansville Mental Health and Wellness Clinic, developed with Easterseals Rehabilitation Center. UE’s clinic includes the Emily M. Young Assessment Center, which provides therapy and assessment services in a former bank location in the university- owned building across Lincoln Avenue from campus. Students in UE’s Doctor of Psychology clinical degree program, supervised by licensed clinical psychologists, operate the center.

For those living with bipolar disorder, the Kempf Bipolar Wellness Center has twice-monthly support groups for patients and loved ones hosted at Ascension St. Vincent’s Washington Avenue campus. The group started at what was then known as St. Mary’s Hospital in 2006.

United Caring Services — which provides shelter, resources, and case management for Evansville’s homeless population — has opened a diversion center at 324 N.W. Sixth St. With four beds, the center offers alternative approaches for homeless people apprehended by law enforcement for nonviolent offenses.

Local advocates had pushed for such a facility for more than a decade.

“Research shows that around one- third of individuals experiencing homelessness have issues with alcohol and drugs, and approximately two-thirds of those people have lifetime histories of drug and alcohol disorders,” UCS Direc- tor of Recuperative Care Maggie Taylor says. “These numbers are staggering.”

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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