The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the distribution of funds to over 200 facilities across the nation. West Virginia received $15 million for community mental health services. Senators Capito and Manchin announced Seneca Health Services, Inc. in Summersville, Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center, Inc. in Princeton and Prestera Center for Mental Health Services, Inc. in Huntington will each receive $5 million for community mental health services.
“I am pleased HHS is investing in three organizations to support West Virginians battling substance use and mental health crisis by improving crisis care services including telehealth, which are vital in rural communities where access to care is limited due to the pandemic,” said Senator Manchin.
Marcie Vaughan, Pres/CEO of Seneca Health Services is excited to expand services across Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pocahontas, and Webster Counties. Ms. Vaughan indicates the CONNECT grant will work to reduce the number of individuals with mental illness or substance use disorder who become involved with law enforcement or admitted to hospitals. Program staff will work with officers and hospital staff to divert individuals to behavioral health supports instead of ERs or jails.
The program will also place connection hubs in small communities where individuals can walk into a set location and immediately be connected to same day behavioral health services. The CONNECT grant will provide immediate access to care through same day service, expanded crisis services in the community and reduce transportation barriers.
Senator Capito stated, “With the rise in opioid overdose deaths and substance abuse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our country and state is facing an unprecedented level of challenging circumstances.” Ms. Vaughan agrees and states the CONNECT grant will add qualified professionals to the workforce in these rural areas, allowing more individuals to be served.
Seneca Health Services held a meeting of community stakeholders in early November and is currently recruiting professionals to provide the expanded services.