Citizen Potawatomi Nation Behavioral Health Department will see the completion of a new building soon.

The building, planned for completion by the end of 2023, broke ground in winter of 2022.

“I haven’t been over there for a week, but it looks like they’re ahead of schedule,” Behavioral Health Coordinator Virginia Kinkade said in June.

The facility will move from its current location at 26 Father Joe Murphy Drive at CPN Headquarters near Shawnee, Oklahoma, to a location just northwest of that near Johnson Drive. Kinkade said the new location is near an open field with a creek running nearby.

“It’s just a really nice view from there. It’s a much larger, nice environment,” Kinkade said, discussing some of the anticipated changes.

The staff will upgrade from a small kitchenette that serves as a conference room to a dedicated conference room with equipment for training, scheduling and more.

Also planned are group rooms near the front of the building, which will be more convenient for when meetings extend beyond business hours.

There will also be a designated area for services for children. There is an area now, but it is small and not currently being used for that purpose.

“I suspect it will be a much more modern and efficient space to work with children,” Kinkaid said. “We do have a therapist who is designated to work with children now. … She’s very excited about having a larger space to work with kids.”

Expanding staff, services

With the bigger space will also come staffing changes as well as the potential for changes to services offered by Behavioral Health.

Kinkade said they are adding eight positions: a peer recovery specialist, two peer prevention specialists, two therapists, two psychologists and one psychiatrist.

“We’ve already begun that process,” she said, noting the peer recovery specialist started in June.

They hope to possibly expand services with the move and potentially make changes such as having a therapist trained in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy.

“We’re looking at a number of things that will benefit employees, tribal members, anyone who receives services through Behavioral Health,” she said.

Bringing in Potawatomi culture

Design details had not yet been finalized in June, but Kinkade said the department had several things in mind that could be incorporated, such as planting a recovery tree outside for use in recovery ceremonies.

Other ideas have included the possibility of decorations, such as photographs from Balloon Fest, for the children’s area and incorporating the Potawatomi language and significant cultural items in the building design.

“One of the things we hope to do is provide displays of meaningful cultural items that can be visuals in the building,” she said.

For now, she said they are exploring furniture and décor suggestions, which will be passed on for review before final decisions are made.

“One of the things that has been approved is a fire pit to use for ceremonies,” Kinkade said.

Shifting the discussion around mental health

Ultimately, Kinkade thinks the new building will be beneficial to both clients and staff at Behavioral Health.

“The building is being provided for them. It was created specifically for them to work through issues and improve their life circumstances,” she said.

She said she saw a shift during the pandemic in the way people talk about mental health, allowing a more open discussion about the importance of mental health and services like those offered by Behavioral Health.

“Everyone was OK with getting a therapist, suddenly. They’re talking about it in open dialogue. The stigma attached to it was just reduced greatly, because everybody needed help,” she said. “So Behavioral Health has moved from kind of the less important to something that’s valued and very important and prioritized, and I think this building kind of reflects that. It’s an investment in both employee and clients.”

For more information about CPN Behavioral Health and the services offered, visit or call 405-214-5101.