Healthy Minds awarded WayFinder grant from United Way of Central Oklahoma

September 20, 2023

The United Way of Central Oklahoma recently announced Healthy Minds Policy Initiative as a 2023 WayFinder innovation grant recipient.

Healthy Minds staff with ceremonial check from the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

Awarded at the United Way of Central Oklahoma's centennial campaign kickoff, the grant provides startup funding for a multi-year initiative to strategically align Oklahoma City’s behavioral health systems with the growing mental health needs of its residents.

Healthy Minds will launch the initiative by convening a cross-sector community leadership team that empowers local stakeholders to develop a vision for mental health in Oklahoma City, orients them to the city’s most pressing challenges and opportunities, and builds their capacity to make systemic improvements that benefit the entire community.

"We are thrilled to collaborate with the United Way of Central Oklahoma to launch this initiative," said Healthy Minds Executive Director Zack Stoycoff. "The organization is a trusted community convener and the perfect partner for such a transformational effort."

The WayFinder program funds innovative approaches that address key community needs within central Oklahoma. Hundreds of organizations and agencies serve individuals with behavioral health needs in central Oklahoma; however, no single effort has applied a comprehensive, population-level strategy for tackling the city’s systemic behavioral health challenges.

Based on prevalence estimates from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, nearly 141,000 people in Oklahoma County need mental health treatment. According to the CDC, suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Oklahoma, and the rate of suicide in Oklahoma County is higher (23 per 100,000 individuals) than for the entire state (21 per 100,000 individuals).

Jessica Hawkins, director of community and systems initiatives, will facilitate the initiative with additional staff support from Healthy Minds' central Oklahoma office.

"Behavioral health and social service providers, hospitals, local leaders, and state agencies have generated significant momentum for mental health improvements in Oklahoma City," said Hawkins. "By coordinating and aligning these efforts – as well as scaling up innovative programs across multiple sectors and systems – Oklahoma City will benefit from a more robust array of treatment and prevention services that saves lives and better meets the behavioral health needs of more people."