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2020 Health Care Champions Therapist: Leslie Binder

Burrell Behavioral Health and CoxHealth

Posted online

Providing counseling for people in the Ozarks is not just something to pay the bills, it’s Leslie Binder’s life. Restoring hope in others is a vital part of Binder both professionally and personally. Working at two of the larger health care providers in the Ozarks, Binder provides relational therapy services throughout the area.

“Imagine if everyone in our community had a team of experts in their corner every time they sought help of any kind,” Binder says. “Then imagine the ripple effect to families, employers, government programs, jails, and our community at large if this team were able to transition a person from reactive health services to proactive services.”

Binder is a licensed marriage and family therapist and administrative supervisor at Burrell Behavioral Health. She also is the specialty medications pharmacy analyst for CoxHealth. Binder says she approaches her therapist role as that of a collaborator. She facilitates care on behalf of the client with others, such as pastors, teachers, psychiatrists and family doctors. Teamwork and communication are essential.

“When treating a client without accounting for physical, spiritual, familial, occupational, and societal factors, I would be providing a short-sighted Band-Aid rather than helping create an effective long-term solution to their goals,” Binder says.

With affordability and accessibility as the greatest barriers for mental health services, Binder says she provides multiple ways for people to receive care. For instance, she offers couple and family therapy sessions outside of business hours to increase access to services. In addition, she says it is vital for her to offer therapy sessions in communities below the poverty level and underinsured. At Burrell, she is able to offer therapy based on an income sliding scale.

“Mental health services cannot be treated as a luxury; instead, these services must be as common and affordable as an oil change or sports physical and should be utilized by everyone who wishes to benefit,” Binder says. “At minimum, these reduced-fee services become life-altering support for those trying to break generational patterns that have perpetuated them becoming victims of circumstances.”

Her talent and passion to help others have helped hundreds of Missourians over the past several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, she provided relief to a variety of medical and mental health professionals as they reached out for support in order to allow them to continue helping others. She says health care workers were experiencing burnout, anxiety and frustration.

“Essential health care workers were isolating from their families to keep them safe while continuing to provide life-saving support in our hospitals,” Binder says. “I responded to this crisis by being someone who helps our helpers.”

Binder is constantly pushing herself to enlighten those around her about mental health. She provides annual stress management and coping skills presentations to the pharmacy residency class at CoxHealth. She also has joined the crisis response team at CoxHealth to be a resource in times of mental health emergencies, facilitates daily mindfulness practice and offers presentations to bring awareness to suicide and mental health first aid.

“Now our leadership have tools to be an extension of mental health professionals by steering community members into services,” Binder says.

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