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Higgins: Almost $1 million in funding for mental health services in WNY


Tue, Jan 17th 2023 02:15 pm

Grant supports mental health awareness training for WNY professionals

Congressman Brian Higgins has announced two four-year federal grants totaling $957,177 awarded to Endeavor Health Services and Compeer Buffalo. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and awarded through the Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) program, the grant will support community mental health programs across Western New York.

“The events our community has endured over the last few years have emphasized the need to prioritize mental health care here in Western New York. That begins with improving community access,” Higgins said. “Endeavor Health Services and Compeer Buffalo are long-standing partners providing life-saving care referrals and educating the community on how we can better support our peer’s mental health needs. These federal grants serve as an investment in a healthier community by taking steps to end the stigma around mental health and working to find lasting solutions for our neighbors in need.”

Higgins’ team said the MHAT grant program “prepares and trains individuals to appropriately and safely respond to those with mental health challenges, particularly those with serious mental illness (SMI) and serious emotional disturbances (SED).”

Awardees include community nonprofit organizations, schools, institutions of higher education, and hospital systems.

“Meeting the unique needs of their communities, grantees utilize evidence-based curriculums to train the mental health and related workforces, schools and higher education systems, first responders, law enforcement, diverse human service organizations, and many others who interact with youth and adults at risk for mental health or substance use challenges. As a result, trainees receive the knowledge, skills, confidence and resources to engage with someone experiencing mental health or substance use challenges.”

Endeavor Health Services will receive $457,177 in federal grant funding over four years to “support training and preparation on appropriate and safe responses to individuals with mental health disorders, particularly serious mental health disorders and serious emotional disturbances.

“Working in partnership with schools, primary care, nursing homes, faith-based organizations, law enforcement and first responders, the funding will be used to train more than 1,800 people in mental health practices and activities. It will also support over 2,000 people in mental health promotion, and facilitate more than 1,200 timely referrals of individuals with signs or symptoms of mental illness to mental health or other related services.”

Elizabeth L. Mauro, LCSW-R, CEO of Endeavor Health Services, said, “We are thrilled to be awarded a SAMHSA grant for the third time in less than two years. The grant will support the provision of training throughout our community on how to respond appropriately and safely to individuals who suffer from extreme stress, grief, trauma and mental health disorders. Included in the project will be an emphasis on the immediate need for awareness, support and access to care for those individuals in need. We will work with our community partners to provide mental health training to continue to fight against the stigma associated with mental illness.”

Compeer Buffalo will receive approximately $500,000 over four years to “support the implementation of the evidence-based mental health first aid curriculum. The training teaches community members on how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It also gives individuals the skills they need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.

“The training will be concentrated in Western New York, as well as Compeer-affiliated agencies throughout the United States. The project will train at least of 750 mental health first aid professionals per year.

Compeer CEO Cheri Alvarez said, “Increasing knowledge and awareness around mental health is more important than ever before. Compeer provides the community with tools, education and strategies to help support friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors by offering mental health first aid trainings. Our goal is to empower the community with the best tools possible so that mental health challenges are recognized and managed effectively.”

Higgins’ team said, “Thanks to this federal grant program, 46,651 individuals in mental health and related workforces have been trained in critical mental health-related practices and activities, and 65,761 total individuals have been trained in prevention or mental health promotion. Beyond training, the grants have resulted in 76,361 individuals having been referred to mental health or related services.”

For nearly 50 years, Compeer has been providing social support in the form of mentoring and friendships to individuals (age 6 and up) who are striving for mental wellbeing. Its offers 1:1 mentoring friendship, social engagement activities, school-based mental health mentoring and mental health education in the community. The purpose is “to champion mental wellbeing, connect people and build relationships … one friend at a time.” Learn more by visiting https://compeerbuffalo.org/.

Endeavor Health Services is a private, not-for-profit organization “dedicated to the development of accessible and effective services, driven towards improving the emotional wellness and behavioral health of Western New Yorkers.” Its mission is “to collaborate with clients, families and communities to encourage wellness and recovery through an array of mental health, substance use, education and support services.” Learn more at https://www.ehsny.org/.

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