Behavioral Health Services North has been selected to receive $5 million of the highly competitive Community Mental Health Centers Grant, a national grant program designed to support and restore the delivery of mental health services impacted by the pandemic.
Currently providing comprehensive mental health and substance abuse disorder care to individuals of all ages across 5 rural counties, BHSN applied for the grant made available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAHMSA), Center for Mental Health Services, in early 2021.
The funding could not come at a more critical time; the NYS 2021 County Health Rankings reported that prior to the pandemic, all of the rural counties served by BHSN (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Washington and Warren) had significant existing behavioral health needs ranging from poor mental health to excessive drinking. Limited provider availability with increasing need for service were exacerbated by the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, and anxiety, as evidenced by a 734% increase in our region’s hotline calls/ month and exponential increase in service provision across all of BHSN’s services.
As the leading provider of mobile crisis services across several northern NY counties, demand for services were further impacted by staffing challenges faced related to the Public Health Emergency. There are currently no crisis residential providers in Warren, Washington, Essex, or Clinton counties, and only one in Franklin county housing 13 beds, not nearly enough to meet the need across the region.
“Despite significant investments in services over the last several years, northeastern New York State continues to have unmet need for Severe Mental Illness (SMI), Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED), and Substance Use Disorders (SUD)” said Mark Lukens, President and CEO of BHSN. “The funds provided through the CMHC grant will allow BHSN to build on existing programs while developing new programs essential to addressing the unmet need across the region, specifically for crisis services. Through addition of a crisis residential program, we can treat non-life-threatening mental health needs in a caring, accessible, and supportive environment as an alternate to an inpatient setting.”
BHSN aims to target this round of CMHC funding toward the development and implementation of programs and services designed to address the Mental Health and SUD care needs for adults and children while enhancing the capacity for crisis services across all of the counties served. Initiatives to be funded by the grant include:
- Enhancing Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder care for children and adults, with increased open access services and reduction in wait time so that those who need services can receive care as soon as they need it.
- Building the BHSN Crisis Response Program to increase access and capacity for crisis services, including the addition of a residential program; the expansion of the 24/7/365 crisis services; and increasing the capacity of mobile crisis services to accommodate the increase in need across the region.
- Development and Implementation of Digital Front Door & Crisis Access Platform to deliver compassionate, personalized care to our clients when and where they need us, using an easy to access platform design for computers and mobile devices.
BHSN sees the imperative to seed this infrastructure in order to meet the projected 14% growth in call volume, an expected result of the 988 launch planned for October 2021. BHSN will be awarded a total of $4,999,480 over the two-year award period.