Evansville City Council approves grant request for mental health services

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Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 6:48 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Mayor Lloyd Winnecke presented a plan to strengthen mental health resources in Evansville to the city council Monday night.

They say the biggest investment was $10 million.

The funding would go to creating a short-term treatment facility with Southwestern Behavioral Health for people in crisis.

“Right now, that kind of short-term treatment facility does not exist in Evansville,” Mayor Winnecke said.

That money would also help create a center for children with dual diagnoses, something some parents haven’t been able to find.

Another $300,000 would go to United Caring Services to create a diversion center. A six-bed facility for people who are intoxicated or having a crisis that may have been picked up by police.

“Where they might have ended up spending the night in jail to be away from, or unable to hurt themselves or someone else, this will be a place where they’ll actually need to go and get real help,” says councilman Ron Beane.

Mayor Winnecke says this can help save money on jail costs as well.

Another $150,000 would go to Easterseals to increase their resources to reduce evaluation wait times.

“We’re going to make a big investment, and we believe we’re going to be able to leverage this investment into getting other state and federal grants and other private source funding,” Mayor Winnecke said.

The plan was adopted unanimously by the council Monday night.

Winnecke says the improvements will take time, but plans are already in place.

The funds will also be used to contribute to housing projects.

The Mayor also hinted at more funding plans that he’ll address at the utility board meeting Tuesday at 3p.m.

Here is full statement from Mayor Winnecke:

We’ve spent a great deal of time over the last many months listening to community leaders and identifying significant community needs, exacerbated by the pandemic.

One such area, where we have substantial need, is in the area of mental health. It’s estimated that nearly half of the 60 million adults and children living with mental health conditions in the United States go without treatment.

That’s why we propose investing some of our $64.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act with Southwest Behavioral Health, one of the city’s leading mental health providers, to renovate two spaces in order to create badly needed mental health services.

The first is a new 20-bed adult residential treatment center. This co-ed facility will be for adults needing short term residential treatment (28-35 days) following hospitalization or crisis.

The second new program will be a new child and family services neurodevelopmental psychiatry specialty center.

The new children and family service will allow for children and adolescents with dual diagnosis to have a local treatment option. No such treatment exists here today.

We also propose investing in the new Evansville Diversion Center, a six bed 23-hour facility at United Caring Services.

This facility is designed to assist people experiencing substance use and/or a co-occurring mental health crisis.

The Diversion Center will provide front-line intervention in order to divert people away from unnecessary emergency department, emergency medical services, or the criminal justice system use toward the help, support, and recovery they need.

The City of Evansville also recognizes Easterseals as a community partner in providing mental health services. The Easterseals Rehabilitation Center has developed a Doctoral level Internship for Clinical Psychologists and a post-doctorate Fellowship for psychologists who have just completed their doctoral degrees.

An investment in Easterseals will expand the organization’s psychology testing and counseling capacity by four times.

The City proposes investing in SWIRCA & More, the region’s preeminent organization focusing on enhancing quality of life and independent living for those who are aging, people living with disabilities and caregivers.  With our senior population growing at a rapid rate, seniors are going to outpace SWIRCA’s existing services 3 to 1 in the next four years. That’s why we propose assisting SWIRCA with a major expansion of their current building.

The City of Evansville is also pleased to increase funding to its Affordable Housing Trust Fund in order to help create additional affordable living units within the city.

There is an estimated gap of 1,500 affordable housing units in Evansville. Our housing needs assessment/analysis of impediments to fair housing choice, shows this gap.

The City of Evansville is pleased to collaborate with the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership on Talent 2025, a regional initiative to increase our population and improve our talent base.

We want our workforce to be prepared for jobs and careers of the future. We want a resilient economy that can bounce back after routine downturns, or a major crisis like COVID-19. We want to ensure equitable opportunity for every family regardless of race, history or circumstance. We have to improve quality of place for a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle.

It’s important to note that each of these proposed investments are qualified expenditures of the American Rescue Plan Act.

We have other community investment plans that we will present to the city council in the weeks ahead that will have equally important impacts on our city.

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