Deep MisUnderstanding is a non-profit working to help fill the gaps in mental health offerings in the Eureka Springs area. The organization has a mission to offer people the help they need obtaining for housing, food and employment, and with the basic living skills needed to live every day.
“We try to take labels out and help people with coping mechanisms,” said co-founder Steffany Goldman, MS. “My company started in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2014. I worked in the public mental health area. I worked with a lot of good people, but a friend and I were noticing our mental health system is broken.
“Medicaid and Medicare often won’t cover intensive mental health unless you are considered seriously mentally ill. With private insurance companies, you might get ten visits a year with a psychiatrist or therapist. If you are only seeing a therapist once a month for thirty minutes, what do you do rest of month if anxiety is bad, you are suicidal or are having trouble getting through basic things in your life? Deep MisUnderstanding helps people find the help they need.”
Deep MisUnderstanding was founded as an LLC, and was working in Phoenix until 2016 when they filed for non-profit status. Then they started spreading out to other states. Goldman was born and raised in the Eureka Springs area, and left for 22 years before returning recently. She sees a big need for the services offered by Deep MisUnderstanding.
“One thing Deep MisUnderstanding does is help people with paperwork and follow-up,” she said. “We help people navigate different systems like disability, the Veterans Administration and Section 8 housing. Sometimes people don’t know what resources are available. Someone comes to me who has been evicted – which happens frequently especially in winter because there is less work – and I help them find local services to help. A lot of people get overwhelmed when they see all the paperwork. We sit down and say, ‘This is how you do it.’ We have spent a lot of time with VAs and American Legions in the states. We also help people with coping skills, the living skills needed to live every day to fill basic needs like housing, food and employment.”
If someone is looking for job, they work to match them with a local business. When someone is homeless, they try to get them in a shelter while at same time helping them find employment or navigate applying for disability if they are not able to work.
One of her favorite ways to help people is teaching them how to budget.
“You won’t believe how many people don’t know how to budget,” she said. “People work forty hours a week and it seems like they can’t get their bills paid. Budgeting is a life skill they should have been taught, but weren’t.”
It isn’t all about carefully handling money, as a lot of times people get overwhelmed because the cost of living often outpaces salaries.
“You may have to downgrade on housing or get housing assistance,” Goldman said. “Especially if you have children, it takes two parents working forty hours a week. Some people think if you work forty hours, you can’t get assistance for housing and that isn’t true. There are options.”
Goldman said they are working a lot with local transgender people, including helping set up a group to meet regularly. They do fundraisers for locals with health problems – a car wash is planned in March for a local who suffered a stroke.
In April they are planning a poker run for veterans.
“We have a lot of vets in town who really need some help,” Goldman said. “I will also be a keynote speaker at the Healing in the Ozarks event planned April 27, 28 and 29. Doctors Bell and Fain will be speaking. Today Eureka Springs is thought of as a place tourists come for the great shops. We want to bring it back to when people came here to heal. It is so serene here.”
No one at Deep MisUndestanding is paid. They don’t accept insurance and work strictly off of donations and income from partnering with MWR Life, an app for your computer or phone that offers discounts on medical, dental, travel and other things.
“People ask how we do it if you don’t charge,” she said. “We get a monthly income working with MWR Life and they promote us. We partner with other people locally like Cup of Love, Purple Flower and the First Assembly of God Church. Every business we’ve worked with in town has been great. The owner of Rocking Pig has supported every single fundraiser we’ve done. And a shout out to Stick Brown at Chelsea’s because she has always let us use Chelsea’s for fundraisers. Crystal Lucas at Pub and Grub has worked with us with every single event.”
Deep MisUnderstanding is also offering a crisis hotline.
“Feeling hopeless? Call us,” Goldman said. “There is always someone on the other end of the phone even at 1 a.m. If not me, I have volunteers who will come out who understand what they are doing. A lot of people don’t have a vehicle or unable to drive. If someone needs a trip to the store or the doctor’s office, we just want to help. We all have times in our life when we feel alone. Everyone, no matter who you are, should have someone to talk to.”
For more information or to donate, call (479) 244-7661, check out Deep MisUnderstanding on Facebook or Twitter, or go to the deepmisunderstanding website.