CEO Holstein believes in Shawnee Mental Health


By Portia Williams

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Shawnee Mental Health in Portsmouth operates under the leadership of Cynthia Holstein, who has worked as Chief Executive Officer of Shawnee Mental Health Center since May of 2013. Overall, Holstein has been employed for a total of 28 years, in other capacities.

“I am hired by our board of directors to oversee the operations and the programming of Shawnee, and to manage all of the staff,” Holstein said. “It is my job to lead the staff, to do hiring and firing, which we don’t do a lot of firing, and I also help to develop programming for the Center and help set the strategic plan that is then taken to the board of directors for review.”

December will mark 30 years of marriage to her husband, and they have a 19-year old daughter. Holstein possesses a masters degree in Psychology, of which one of her past jobs was with Marshall University as an instructor.

“After I left Marshall I came here. I’ve done psychological testing here, I have worked with severely mentally ill adults as a supervisor of that program,” she said. “I originally started working in Lawrence County. I have worked with children, and I have also been the compliance officer here.”

There are changes that the State will mandate that will effect all mental health agencies in the state of Ohio.

“There are going to be some changes that mental health agencies are going to be providing. The State Mental Health Addiction Services Department is redesigning mental health services within the next three to four years,” she said. “It is going to be introduced gradually, over the next three to four years we will be seeing some redesign. We do not know what that is going to look like yet, so of course we concerned about whether or not we will have the right staffing, or if we are going to be in a position to provide the services in the manner that we need to provide them. So, it is just getting prepared for all of these changes, that is going to be a big challenge.”

She said there is concern about how the changes will impact their agency, and the services that presently provide.

“Another change that is going to be coming down the pike for us and other providers, is that mental health services will fall under management, and will be managed,” she said. “In the past it has been fees for service, where people could just come in and get what they needed without being required to have high authorizations for things, or certain services will be limited. For instance, managed Medicaid will happen in 2018, so that is going to be a challenge.”

On Sept. 26, 2015, Shawnee Mental Health held ‘Shine a Light 5k,’ a 5k Run/Walk to raise awareness about suicide, and prevention activities. All proceeds were allocated towards suicide awareness and prevention.

“Our staff has been planning this walk for about six months. We felt that there has not been enough on suicide prevention in our community, so we felt that this would be a good way to get people’s attention because it is a problem here, and we need to pay attention to it, and we need to do something about it.”

The turnout for the 5k event was remarkable, attracting many people that have lot a loved to suicide.

“So, the The Shine a Light 5K was our first step, and now we want to start providing educational workshops to the community in the schools, for teachers to help them identify what to look for,” she said. “For a first 5K, and it was not a competitive one, it was wonderful. We had a lot of people show up the day of the race and register. Some groups came and wore t-shirts to honor someone that had lost to suicide. Many told us that this was a great event, and they want to participate next year as well.”

Having the opportunity to interact with the clients that they serve is what she admires most about her position as CEO.

“What I enjoy most about my position here is working with the clients, and seeing the impact that our agency has on those that we serve, and I really enjoy that,” she said. “I still get to do a little bit of the direct service, because I like to see what we actually do, I don’t want to be stuck in an office all of the time. I like to be available for clients when they need me.”

Succinctly, she enjoys working with a staff, who she considers hard-working, and dedicated.

“I also enjoy working with the professional staff. We have a very diverse group of people, we have a very hard-working group of people,” she said. “So, seeing how hard they work, and how dedicated they are to the community is very fulfilling.”

She is passionate about the work that she does, as well as the agency that she is employed with.

“So, I have a long history here at Shawnee. I believe in what we do, and I love working in mental health,” she said.

For more information about Shawnee Mental Health, visit the website at:

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter@PortiaWillPDT.

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