By PF Staff
Waukegan, IL. – The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center has announced that it will receive four federal grants totaling $3.4 million to address the growing need for behavioral health services in Lake County. Funding will be used to expand Lake County’s Community Support Services, Mental Health First Aid training, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) services, and the A Way Out program.
“Mental illness and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life, in all age groups, in every Lake County community,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Health Department. “There is great need to expand behavioral health capacity in Lake County. These grants will enable us to provide treatment and support to more Lake County residents.”
Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals, administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will provide $2 million over 5 years. Through the grant, the Health Department and PADS Lake County will form a team to serve individuals with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders who are in vulnerable housing situations.
Through the grant, the Health Department’s Community Support Services program will provide psychiatry, counseling, and case management to program participants. Clients and their families will be linked to housing and additional support services, including substance use treatment, crisis care, short-term residential programs, social security application assistance, and primary care. The program is expected to serve 225 new clients in 5 years.
SAMHSA’s Mental Health Awareness Training grant will provide $375,000 over 3 years to expand and improve Lake County’s Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training initiatives. The Health Department will continue its existing Youth Mental Health First Aid program, and through the grant will train 30 individuals per year to become Adult Mental Health First Aid trainers. In turn, these individuals will train 2,250 community members to identify and address mental health issues and refer people to appropriate treatment.
“Increasing Mental Health First Aid training is a key strategy to reducing mental health stigma in Lake County and bolstering community response to those in need,” said Pfister.
The Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services grant, administered by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), will provide $514,000 over 2 years to expand the Health Department’s Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) services. MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a “whole-patient” approach for people with substance use disorders.
The Health Department provided MAT services to 238 patients in 2017 and expanded its program to Midlakes Health Center in Round Lake in July 2018. Plans are in progress to also expand services at its newly renovated Zion Health Center. Through the grant, the Health Department will hire two additional Substance Abuse Counselors and make infrastructure improvements to its primary MAT location. These changes will enable the program to serve a total of 400 MAT patients by the end of 2019.
The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-Based Program grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, will provide $500,000 to expand Lake County’s A Way Out program, with a goal of reaching over 400 new participants by the end of the 2-year grant.
Launched in 2016 by the Lake County Opioid Initiative, A Way Out helps connect individuals who are addicted to opioids or other drugs with substance abuse treatment. Participants can walk in to one of 13 participating police departments and request A Way Out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without fear of prosecution. The Health Department provides screening and finds appropriate treatment for the person seeking help.
Through the grant, the Health Department will hire three full time staff – a dedicated program coordinator, an additional Crisis Care Program counselor, and a navigator who will provide support and follow up to participants and their families. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science will serve as research partners evaluating the effectiveness of the A Way Out program. They will also monitor the long-term individual and community outcomes for the project.