Dennis R. Neill Equality Center Reinstates Vital Counseling Services for LGBTQ Community Amidst Pandemic Recovery

LGBTQ counseling services in Dennis R. Neill Equality Center

Revival of LGBTQ Counseling Services Marks a Triumph Over COVID-19 Challenges

The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Oklahoma has brought back its essential counseling services for a win for the LGBTQ community.

The cancellation of its counseling programs came after a very difficult period during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic.

On this note, Dorothy Ballard, the Executive Director for Oklahomans for Equality, expressed her happiness towards having this invaluable service back.

“We’re just really happy to have this service again,” Ballard said reflecting on what it meant to have this service restored.

COVID-19 Impact: Discontinuation of Counseling Services

This was felt at the beginning of the epidemic around 2021-2022, when the counseling services were discontinued according to Ballard.

“Since around the peak of COVID, around 21, going into 22 is when we lost our direct counseling,” said Ballard explaining how they stopped giving these services.

Therefore, there were efforts made to reconstruct their counseling team and maintain cultural suitability for staff that will be able to serve them better within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Partnership and Restoration Efforts

The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center pursued collaboration with CREOKS Behavioral Health Services towards this end.

Consequently, embedded counseling has been reintroduced through this partnership as an important step towards addressing mental health issues among their clients.

“Again we’ve been able to get embedded counseling services available to our clientele again it’s actually being offered through CREOKS.”

“We have two embedded counselors.” This helps restore these vital services successfully as confirmed by Ballard.

Accessible Care for Youth and Adults

According to Ballard, these counseling services are offered jointly by the center and CREOKS to both youth and adults in LGBTQ community.

To make sure each person feels welcome and accepted in their real identities is still the main focus.

“It’s important when you’re seeking any kind of healthcare that you are able to go in with a fully holistic approach, meaning you can be your authentic self, you’re going to be affirmed, and your lifestyle.”

This was the sentiment of Ballard as she urged for the creation of safe spaces to make healthcare services more inclusive.

Addressing Distinctive Challenges and Mental Health Needs

LGBTQ community requires these counseling services because they are distinct in nature.

Ballard also pointed out Oklahoma’s alarming suicide rates and socio-economic disparities which necessitate specialized care for this population.

“The reality is just for Oklahoma, in general, no matter what member of the community you are in our suicide rate is incredibly high.”

Ballard said this being concerned about CDC data which showed that there were 877 deaths by suicide and with a death rate of 22.1.

A Call for Holistic and Targeted Care

Accordingly, Ballard calls on people to seek healthcare that meets their specific requirements as individuals.

“It’s essential for people to get care targeted around those needs and some of the distinctive issues they face,” she said stressing tailored support and affirmation.

A Beacon of Hope Amidst Challenges

The overhaul of counseling services at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center is highly symbolic of a light at the end of the tunnel for gay people in Oklahoma.

The availability of cultural and LGBTIQ competent counseling represents a major step forward in terms of mental health support and affirmation for individuals on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, especially after the coronavirus pandemic.

Ballard repeated that their services are easy to access and therefore invited those in need to reach out to them for help.

By offering advice again, this move has shown the strength, determination and pledge towards making Oklahoma more inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ community members.

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  • Dennis R. Neill Equality Center Reinstates Vital Counseling Services for LGBTQ Community Amidst Pandemic Recovery