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Mental health services get $9M grant

The work that East Central Mental Health does is important during good times and it’s essential during tough times.

Like most care agencies, ECMH has experience some tough times recently, but a $9 million grant awarded to the Alabama Department of Mental Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration should mean better times ahead.

“Nine million dollars is a lot of money to do some good things,” ADMH Commissioner John Houston told the group that gathered for the awarding of the grant at ECMH in Troy Thursday morning. Three counties, Bullock, Macon and Pike, will be directly affected by the grant and representatives from each county were in attendance.

East Central Mental Health was chosen as a contractor for the grant because of its co-location of services, juvenile court liasion and the people on staff who think outside the box to find innovative and creative ways of providing care for its clients, Houston said.

“Two hallmarks of Governor Riley’s administration have been accountability and expanding services for the state’s youth and adolescents,” he said. “This grant wholly embodies both of these characteristics. It will expand mental health services for children and assist families in navigating the system to secure these services for their child.

“In addition, a partnership with Troy University will provice strong accountability by measuring outcomes to determine what practices are most effective for the long-term beneft of the family and child.”

Houston said parents who have a child that develops symptoms of a serious emotional disorder often find themselves in the dilemma of where to go for help. The ADMH grant will be used to fund the East Central Children’s Health Collaborative project (ECCHCO).

“The goal of ECCHCO is to develop a collaborative, community-based system of care responsive to the mental health needs of children and youth with serious emotional disturbances and their families.”

The grant will be administered in Pike, Bullock and Macon counties and will address the comprehensive needs of children and adolescents by creating a family-focused and youth-driven system of care that transcends traditional mental health boundaries by integrating social services, education and juvenile justice resources with mental health services for children in a community-based outreach setting. Don Schofield, ECMH director, said the grant will be administered over the next six years. The first year will be spent planning innovative and creative ways to provide a system of care that will best meet the needs of the chidren, youth and their families.

“What is very unique about this grant is that we have a major university, Troy University, as a partner,” Schofield said. “We look forward to this partnership and its valuable input in the planning and carrying out of this project over the next six years.”

Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said that he is pleased that Troy University faculty members have been chosen to play an important role in a project that will make mental health services more accessible for young people across the region.

“Research and service are essentail components of our mission and we welcome the opportunity to join this valuable partnership,” Hawkins said.

Kim Hammack, who will serve as the grant coordinator for ADMH, said the buy-in and investment from the communities is strong.