United Way Oasis Counseling International

Oasis provides quality, compassionate mental health care services — including counseling, psychological evaluations, medication management, substance abuse treatment and in-home family support.

The United Way is used to help subsidize therapy fees for those who not have the financial means to pay for their counseling sessions, allowing more people with limited resources the ability to access a wide range of behavioral health care services when needed at Oasis Counseling International in Norfolk.

In 2020, Oasis Counseling International looks for support from the United Way more than ever with the school year underway amid a pandemic.

"The United Way really increases the access for services, and people can access them sooner," said Dr. Mark Stortvedt, executive director of Oasis Counseling International. "They are very flexible with how we can remove barriers that keep people from getting mental health services."

Oasis Counseling International is based in Norfolk with a satellite office in O'Neill. Oasis provides quality, compassionate mental health care services — including counseling, psychological evaluations, medication management, substance abuse treatment and in-home family support.

Oasis aims to help everybody and anybody, no matter the circumstance.

"Our mission is that we do not want to turn anyone away," Stortvedt said. "When people are open to wanting help, we wouldn't turn them away. That's when you want to help them."

In 2017, the organization served 1,601 clients, and that increased to 1,772 in 2018 and 1,936 in 2019. Each year the workload grows about 10% so extra help.

"This is evidence that the need for mental health care and substance abuse treatment services in our area is increasing," Stortvedt said.

This is where the United Way comes in to support Oasis Counseling International.

"They fill in the gap, and we appreciate what the United Way does," Stortvedt said. "We are able to tap into a lot more dollars from other resources that people wouldn't be able to use if the United Way didn't help us out."

In 2019, funds from the United Way helped 40 individuals in Norfolk pay for 60 sessions at Oasis Counseling International.

"Without United Way funds, many people would not be able to afford the help that they need," Stortvedt said. "The cost of treatment often presents a barrier to low-income individuals and families, to the uninsured, and to those who are insured but have high deductibles. The United Way funds help to eliminate this barrier and open the door for at-risk populations to begin therapy sessions without it creating a financial hardship."

The funds Oasis Counseling International receives from the United Way might be minimal, but they are important to helping people receive the support and services they need.

Oasis Counseling

United Way helps Oasis Counseling with around 23% of their funds.

Oasis Counseling International

Administrator: Dr. Mark Stortvedt, executive director.

What services does your agency provide, and who generally does it serve?

Oasis Counseling is a faith-based, nonprofit behavioral health agency serving Northeast Nebraska with two convenient locations: a main office in Norfolk and a satellite office in O'Neill. We provide quality, compassionate mental health care services, including counseling, psychological evaluations, medication management, substance abuse treatment and in-home family support. We also offer therapy in English and Spanish and turn no one away because they lack the ability to pay.

In what way does the United Way assist you?

The funding we receive from the United Way is used to help subsidize therapy fees for those who do not have the financial means to pay for their counseling sessions, thus allowing more people with limited resources the ability to access a wide range of behavioral health care services when needed.

What percentage of your budget does the United Way fund?

About a quarter of a percent (.23%).

What are some new or ongoing needs that your agency is facing?

Madison County is located in a federally designated mental health professional shortage area, so staffing is always a challenge. We are in need of substance abuse counselors and an addiction recovery department supervisor.

If your agency did not receive United Way funds, how would it affect your ability to serve others?

Last year, funds from the United Way helped 40 individuals in this community pay for 60 sessions at our agency. Without United Way funds, many people would not be able to afford the help that they need. The cost of treatment often presents a barrier to low-income individuals and families, to the uninsured, and to those who are insured but have high deductibles. The United Way funds help to eliminate this barrier and open the door for at-risk populations to begin therapy sessions without it creating a financial hardship.

Share a brief anecdote about how your agency has had an impact on the community as a whole or an individual who has been served?

Oasis has had an impact on this community by placing two of our mental health therapists on-site at the Norfolk Middle School, the Norfolk Junior High and Stanton Community Schools at no cost to either district. Our licensed providers work with students on a variety of issues that interfere with success at school including stress, depression, anxiety, bullying, self-harm, autism, ADHD, adjustment disorders, alcohol and substance abuse. Emotional and behavioral disorders frequently lead to poor academic performance, disciplinary issues and the risk for potential violence. Furthermore, dealing with disruptive behaviors in the classroom can cause a high rate of burnout among teachers. School-based mental health therapy is a vital step toward ensuring a safe and positive learning environment for both students and educators.

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Editor’s note: This is one of a series of articles highlighting agencies that receive funding from the Norfolk Area United Way.

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