Mental health dept. gets $7 million substance abuse treatment grant

Missouri's Mental Health department has received a $7 million federal grant to provide recovery support services to more than 4,000 adults over the next three years, Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday.

Nixon said the money will help people with substance use disorders in the state's Southeast, Southwest and Kansas City areas.

"This federal grant will strengthen Missouri's safety net and improve public safety by connecting those in need with the proper care," the governor said in a news release. "I appreciate the Department of Mental Health for partnering with community service groups, including faith-based organizations, to reach out to individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders and providing them the tools needed for long-term recovery."

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the $7 million Access to Recovery grant to the department's Division of Behavioral Health.

The target population for the services includes active military members and veterans, individuals involved in the criminal justice or child welfare systems, homeless people, and pregnant or parenting women.

"Over the last nine years, the Access to Recovery movement of faith-based providers, partnering with social and community supports, has helped thousands of Missourians find the critical supports they need to obtain and sustain recovery from substance use disorders," said Ladell M. Flowers, CEO of Dismas House of Kansas City, in the news release. "The announcement of the Access to Recovery grant award is an answer to prayer for those who depend on these vital services, and we look forward to the opportunity to help make the quality of life better for more individuals and families throughout the state."

Nixon announced the grant at the Mental Health department's spring training at Lake of the Ozarks, where he also discussed efforts to strengthen Missouri's mental health care system.

In the 2013-14 state business year that ended last June 30, Nixon proposed and the state implemented a strategic initiative to help communities identify and care for Missourians with severe mental illness.

The initiative included an expansion of Crisis Intervention and Mental Health First-Aid training and resources for emergency room intervention teams to work with patients needing coordinated care.

The initiative also included placing 31 mental health liaisons at the state's Community Mental Health Centers.

To date, there have been more than 19,000 contacts between Community Mental Health Liaisons, law enforcement and the courts, with 9,800 referrals to mental health services.

And the governor and lawmakers have continued to include funding for these efforts in the state's budgets.

"I appreciate the Legislature coming together to pass a bipartisan budget that recognizes the important role our mental health providers play in their communities," Nixon said in the release. "While these efforts are not a cure-all, they are an important step toward helping more Missourians get the care they need."