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County uses ARPA funds to fight mental health issues

Post-Star - 12/7/2023

Dec. 7—Warren County invested $1.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding across nine social programs to address the mental health crisis, especially in young people.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors allocated the ARPA funding based on applications made by organizations and businesses. Through the application process, agencies that work with those who need mental health assistance consistently referenced a greater need for help during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Don Lehman said, the director of Public Affairs for Warren County.

The decision was made to allow the Warren County Office of Community Services to take a deeper look at the community's mental health needs and determine the best use of this $1.1 million portion of ARPA funding, Lehman said.

The Warren County Office of Community Services coordinates services for individuals and families impacted by mental illness, intellectual/developmental issues, and addiction issues in Warren County.

"It was clear during our vetting of Warren County ARPA funding applications that our community, like many across the region and nation, was experiencing a greater need for mental health assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Kevin Geraghty, chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors. He said he believes the choices reflect support of well-respected community organizations and institutions.

WAIT House, a Glens Falls non-profit that assists homeless and at-risk youth, is among the nine programs to receive funding. WAIT House received $88,517 of the allocated sum allowing the organization to hire a social worker to assist youth and families, according to WAIT House.

"The unprecedented struggles that our youth are experiencing, such as trauma, mental health and substance use concerns, have significantly increased over the past three years," WAIT House's Executive Director Jason McLaughlin said.

"In some cases that can be a matter of life or death," McLaughlin said. "The ARPA funding that WAIT House has been approved for will help combat and reduce the strain on the substance use and mental health agencies in our community."

The largest recipient of the $1.1 million in ARPA mental health improvements funding is Glens Falls Hospital, which is to receive $444,448 to fund expansion of its Crisis Unit, according to Warren County.

"The ARPA funding we received not only makes this important project possible, it inspired others to make contributions, ensuring that the project is fully funded," Glens Falls Hospital President and CEO Paul Scimeca said in a statement.

The following organizations also received a portion of the $1.1 millionWarren County ARPA Mental Health funds:

ASCEND Mental Wellness—$245,531 for additional personnel who have been hired to expand outreach in the community.People USA Warren County Transitional Care Wellness Team—$167,137 to provide "Community Oriented Recovery and Empowerment" services.National Council for Mental Wellbeing—$65,000 for Mental Health First Aid Training in Warren County.ADK Employee Assistance Program—$26,367 for the Health and Wellness Platform known as MyLIfeExpert, which has been purchased and is in use with various entities that contract with Adirondack EAP.LOOK Media Resource—$25,000 to produce a series of educational documentary videos featuring local individuals working with youth who are impacted by homelessness, mental health and/or addiction. Production has begun.Brayton Psychological Services—$3,000 for equipment to offer virtual therapeutic treatment for youth, which is in use.Additional funding has been allocated for mental health improvements for the homeless through the local Continuum of Care group, which consists of various community not-for-profit agencies planning and collaborating together to address homelessness, according to Warren County.

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