Grant helps address community mental health challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic
Congressman Brian Higgins announced a federal grant totaling $5 million awarded to BestSelf Behavioral Health. The grant, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and awarded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will provide funding to enhance services for adults and children in need of mental health care.
“The stress and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly intensified mental health challenges for many members of the Western New York community,” Higgins said. “This funding is critical for BestSelf to extend their services and community reach in order to improve outcomes for adults and children experiencing mental health challenges.”
The grant provides funding for BestSelf’s Community Mental Health Centers program, which “aims to enhance outpatient services with a particular focus on developing a gender-affirming care pathway and an enhanced eating disorder treatment program.” Additionally, through this program the children’s clinic support team and the adult mobile mental health team will provide mobile, flexible and adaptable support to the clinical team, assisting with intake, follow-up, and client reengagement.
“This funding will improve BestSelf’s capacity to meet the ever-increasing need for behavioral health services in our community,” said Elizabeth Woike-Ganga, LCSW-R, president and CEO of BestSelf. “These much-needed resources will enhance our ability to provide accessible, high-quality and culturally competent treatment and support services to children and adults throughout WNY.”
The program is guided by several specific goals aimed at improving the reach of their programs and services, including: enhancing support for individuals with serious emotional disturbance (SED), serious mental illness (SMI), and co-occurring disorder (SED and SMI combined with substance use disorder), developing and implementing a comprehensive virtual care platform, providing staff training, and training members of the trauma informed treatment advisory committee to provide crisis intervention for agency teams and departments who experience loss or crisis.
Overall, the project will serve 550 individuals per year with serious emotional disturbance, serious mental illness, as well as those with co-occurring disorder living in Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
The SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services awards grants through the Community Mental Health Grant program enabling community mental health centers to support and restore clinical services that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and effectively address the needs of individuals with SMI, SED and COD. SAMHSA said it “recognizes the great need for this funding, because during the pandemic community mental health centers were not able to meet the needs of many individuals with behavioral health challenges, especially within minority populations and underserved communities.”
BestSelf Behavioral Health provides a wide range of programs and services to the Western New York Community, including mobile mental health and substance abuse disorder services, education and vocational supports, homeless outreach and housing, community and school-based programs, as well as mental health and child protective professionals for children. Residents can reach out the BestSelf Behavioral Health 24/7 by calling 716-884-0888 or using the online webchat at https://www.bestselfwny.org/.