Navigating the Intersection Between Physical and Mental Health: Olivia Mikel’s Vision for Bridging Gaps in the Oklahoma Healthcare System

May 1, 2024

Meet Olivia Mikel, a Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) candidate at Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies. With roots in Oklahoma, Olivia brings over a decade of experience in the healthcare sector and three years within the mental health field. Her career journey encompasses roles such as Case Manager for the ADvantage program in Oklahoma and Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager II. Olivia started her academic career at Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City, OK, where she pursued both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. After completing her master’s in psychology with an emphasis in clinical mental health, Olivia chose to pursue a doctorate in behavioral health at Cummings Graduate Institute. In the following interview, Olivia delves into her approach to behavioral health, pivotal moments that have shaped her career, and her vision for implementing an integrated care model to benefit the people of Oklahoma.

How are you actively contributing to or impacting your local community through your behavioral health expertise?

I am a behavioral health case manager II at Hands to Guide You (H2GY). H2GY is a clinical mental health office that treats various individuals and families with services including psychotherapy, case management, etc. I am an LPC candidate, and I am attending Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies to further my education in behavioral health. CGI will allow me to take classes focusing on areas such as women’s health, trauma and autism, trauma-informed care, and many other areas. This will build on my behavioral health foundation and help me to better serve my population, as well as teach others in the field once I am a Doctor of Behavioral Health. The DBH will mold me into a better leader as well as teach me different ways to help our broken healthcare system. I currently work primarily with women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, as well as patients with trauma-related disorders.

How has a particular aspect of your professional experience shaped your approach to behavioral health?

My roots are in case management and healthcare. This has impacted my behavioral health career in many ways. I understand the need for integrated care from working on both sides of the field. Looking at behavioral health from a physical health standpoint has shown me that there simply is not one without the other. If a patient is not mentally healthy then that will reflect in their physical health and vice versa.

Olivia Mikel with Dr. Allison Earl, DBH Program Alumna, at the 2023 CGI Integrated Care Conference.

Can you elaborate on a specific challenge you’ve faced in the behavioral health field and share your strategies for addressing or overcoming similar challenges in the future?

A challenge I was faced with recently included a patient that was 34 weeks pregnant. She had multiple OBGYN appointments as well as her case management and therapy appointments. This patient often expressed how difficult it was to make it to all of her different appointments. I plan to create a business plan that will consist of a healthcare office that has all of these services under the same roof. As a society the United States is at a breaking point and if the recognition of the need for integration is not addressed then the healthcare system will continue to decline.

Could you share a situation that has significantly shaped your understanding of integrated care and its intersection with behavioral health?

At H2GY the leadership staff are specialists in integrated care. Reverse integration has been attempted multiple times with several physical health practitioners. Currently H2GY offers psychotherapy, psychoeducation, and case management along with many other services. We previously had nurse practitioners in the office and are continuing to search for the right fit for that position. Having mental health and behavioral health services under the same roof offer our patients the opportunity to receive gold standard care.

How do you see yourself making a lasting impact in behavioral health?

I will create a business plan that will offer Oklahomans the opportunity to receive all of their services under the same roof. The Family Care Clinic would offer case management, psychoeducation classes, mental health services, and sleep specialists, along with healthcare services from primary care physicians and/or nurse practitioners. The Family Care Clinic would partner with Womens Health Solutions, LLC and other behavioral health clinics to meet the needs of the community. This will provide them with gold-standard care, as well as assist in bridging the gaps in the healthcare system in Oklahoma.

In her role as a Behavioral Health Case Manager II at H2GY, Olivia actively contributes her expertise in behavioral health to the local community. Drawing from her background in case management and healthcare, Olivia recognizes the imperative for integrated care, where mental and physical health intersect seamlessly. As she works towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH), Olivia will be able to expand her range of services to offer comprehensive psychotherapy and case management and fulfill her vision of creating a business plan for the Family Care Clinic. By partnering with other healthcare providers and behavioral health clinics, Olivia aims to bridge gaps in the system and provide Oklahomans with exceptional care, ultimately enhancing the well-being of her community and beyond.

Why Olivia chose to pursue the DBH degree

About Hands to Guide You

Olivia Mikel with Dr. Larry Ford and Dr. Allison Earl of Hands To Guide You.

Hands To Guide You (H2GY) is an integrated, behavioral healthcare practice located in Oklahoma City, OK.  Led by Dr. Larry Ford, Doctor of Behavioral Health (DBH) and Licensed Behavioral Health Professional (LBHP) whose mission and focus is to improve the way the world experiences healthcare is passionate about helping patients realize their full potential by successfully treating and resolving behavioral health deficiencies. H2GY serves as a cornerstone integrated behavioral health practice, offering a variety of services to individuals and families, including psychotherapy and case management. To learn more about H2GY, visit:

Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies is proud to partner with H2GY to provide high quality integrated behavioral health education to their employees. To learn more about partnership opportunities, including Tuition Assistance Partnerships, with Cummings Graduate Institute, visit: