Grand Lake Mental Health opens Pawhuska location

Robert Smith
Grand Lake Mental Health Center held a ribbon-cutting last Friday for its new location in Pawhuska, which is at 124 E. 6th Street. Pictured are, from left, Raymond Red Corn, co-owner of the property where the new mental health clinic is located and assistant principal chief of the Osage Nation; Rep. Ken Luttrell of Ponca City; Charles Danley, CEO of Grand Lake Mental Health Center (using ribbon-cutting scissors); Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City; and Tad Jones, chair of the Grand Lake Board of Directors. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

Grand Lake Mental Health Center last Friday celebrated the opening of its 23rd clinic in 12 counties, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new location in Pawhuska.

Grand Lake also has a location on Main Street in nearby Barnsdall.

The Pawhuska clinic is at 124 E. 6th Street. It is open 8-5 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and 8-6 Tuesdays and Thursdays. The crisis line is 1-800-722-3611. Grand Lake officials, community partners and state legislators gathered Friday to mark the importance of having a physical location in Pawhuska, but they also heard remarks about the growing role of technology in the mental health field.

Larry Smith, who is chief operating officer and is scheduled to take over as chief executive officer in March, talked about Grand Lake’s distribution to patients and first responders of thousands of iPads that allow 24-hour access to mental health servivces. Patients have them so they can get help in the middle of the night or at other inconvenient moments, and law officers have them so they can offer troubled individuals they encounter a chance to speak with a mental health professional.

“The iPad concept came out of my head from a dream one night, I guess,” Smith told an audience of 30-plus last Friday. He explained that the reason for offering the iPads to law officers is to prevent assaults that result in persons with mental illnesses being incarcerated. He argued that cost is not a prohibitive issue where the iPads are concerned.

“How can you not afford that?” Smith said. “We are able to stop people from going to jail.”

His vision for the future is for an increasing role for technology. Grand Lake also provides services to schools in its 12-county area.

“We are in every school in our twelve counties that will allow us in,” Smith said. That now includes Pawhuska Public Schools, and two of the district’s principals — Amy Sanders of Indian Camp Elementary, and Lauri Lee of Pawhuska Junior High and Pawhuska High School — were on-hand for the ribbon-cutting.

“It has made a huge difference in our school,” Sanders said, expressing thanks for the assistance that Grand Lake offers.

Charles Danley, the current CEO of Grand Lake, emphasized that mental illness is brain disease, a medical problem, and should not be the cause of social stigma any more than any other medical problem.

“We are here to be a part of your community,” he said.