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2020 Top Workplace

Jun 11, 2020

Jessica Levy, for Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services Published 6:00 a.m. ET June 11, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t just a physical health crisis. It’s also a mental health crisis. Coping with the stress of the pandemic has been a challenge for people all over the world, with nearly half of American adults saying that coronavirus-related worry and stress are damaging their mental health. Additionally, it’s been a particularly difficult time for people who already struggle with mental illness or addiction.

One organization, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (GCBHS), was able to see these challenges coming and step up to help in innovative ways. As the largest behavioral health care provider in the region, GCBHS has been doing more with less to continue to provide services to people in need while staying safe. "As a frontline behavioral healthcare organization, we are making decisions that allow us to continue our work and protect the welfare of our patients including minimizing their risk and exposure as much as possible,” said President and CEO, Jeff O'Neil. “We have continued to do whatever is necessary to provide essential mental health and addiction services."

This means expanding options including their new injection van – a mobile service which allows nurses to reach people who are isolated so that they can receive critical treatment such as medications, injections, and other medical assistance. It keeps vulnerable patients from risking exposure to illness such as the coronavirus.

GCBHS is also offering counseling and care management via Telehealth communication. Patients are counseled over the phone or by using virtual meeting software such as Zoom to assist them with maintaining their mental health. According to therapist Jennifer Parke, Telehealth has enabled counselors to connect with patients on many fronts. "While some are struggling with isolation and depression, I am amazed at the strength of people to persevere through this pandemic," she said.

The almost 700 staff members at GCBHS have had to be flexible and adaptive in order to figure out the best ways to meet the needs of the 30,000 patients they serve every year. "Our staff are utilizing their skills, experience and plain old determination to meet the needs of all our patients and ensure their safety,” said CEO O'Neil."The work they do each day adds up to literally thousands of people who are being extended a helping hand during this crisis and beyond."

At Kemper House, a GCBHS transitional living facility for patients leaving hospitals or institutional settings, new guidelines had to be adopted. To help ensure the safety of residents and staff while also allowing new people to move in, the team quickly implemented chnages, including a two-week quarantine. To minimize isolation Kemper House staff added TVs to rooms and encourage residents to be outside as much as possible.

President & CEO Jeff O'Neil is proud of the work his staff are doing. "What we have been able to accomplish over the past three-plus months was a combined effort across the organization,” he said. “It has not been easy, but the belief that the people we serve must always come first is evident in the diligence and adaptability of our staff who continue to make a difference in patients' lives. Their perseverance and commitment makes me proud to be a part of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services."

For more information on how Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services provides a critical lifeline to clients with mental health and addiction needs, visit

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