Springfield youth day treatment center hopes to fill gap in mental health care

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A new Springfield non-profit aims to help fill a gap in youth mental health services. Awaken 360 doesn't have a physical location yet, but they're planning to open a day center for youth somewhere in north Springfield next Fall.

They're already reaching out to help those in the community who are hurting. "Whenever my mom passed away when I was 14, I just really needed somebody, but I didn't have anyone to reach out to me," says Jamie Tatum.

Tatum is finally experiencing healing, with the help of a program at Freedom City Church, which includes therapy with Awaken 360.

"I didn't even really know why I was sad and I was angry, because I'd covered it up for so long. But she had a way of just lovingly breaking through all the walls that I had built up to get down to the problem," says Tatum.

But her healing comes after several years of covering up her pain. "I went to what I knew, which was drugs and things like that to comfort me. I felt like I had nowhere to go," Tatum says.

Awaken 360 wants to provide that place for youth ages 12 to 18, to fill a gap in youth mental health care.

"What brought me to this was a long history, family history of struggle and seeing the need for resources," says Heather Freeman, Awaken 360 founder.

Freeman recently lost her brother-in-law after his long fight with mental illness and addiction. His struggle led her to work for almost 10 years with kids in a residential treatment center, and she's now offering free therapy at the Springfield Dream Center. But her goal is a youth day treatment center.

"You have like this really high level of treatment on one side and then you have once a week, at most, twice a week, with an outpatient counselor, and then there's just this giant gap of resources in our community, where kids still need that high level of care, but they don't necessarily need the residential setting," says Freeman.

The Awaken 360 center will be a school-like setting, where kids will get an education, an intensive level of treatment, and spiritual support.
"We're also faith based, so we're doing something that's pretty brand new and combining empirically proven techniques with cognitive behavioral therapy, with a faith-based approach. So that's pretty unique," says Freeman.

It's a resource Tatum wishes had been there for her. "I think that would have probably saved me from several years of addiction," Tatum says.

Awaken 360 Day Treatment Center is now accepting enrollment for the Fall, and looking for community sponsors for families whose children will use the program. Learn more on their website at the attached link.