Saturday, April 1, 2023

West Virginia Health Right speaks about how ARP funding has helped


KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – It has been about nine months since West Virginia Health Right expanded its behavioral care services.

“The need is so great especially after COVID, so many people suffering depression, anxiety,” said Dr. Angie Settle, WV Health Right’s CEO. “There’s even an increase in suicide even in a lot of our elderly population a lot are dealing with isolation.”

Of Kanawha County’s $34.5 million awarded in the American Rescue Plan, Health Right received $150,000 during the course of two years to fund the salary of a behavioral health specialist at their Westside location.

That specialist also travels to some of the areas of Kanawha County in need of behavioral health care.

Once a week, the specialist travels to community-centric areas in Montgomery, Marmet, Sissonville and St. Albans.

Since the specialist started, 1,037 Kanawha County residents have received mental health screenings and services.

Settle said Health Right chose to have the specialist visit places like community centers and senior centers to help people get comfortable with experiencing behavioral health care.

“We tried to pick places in the community that were a little less intimidating, not intimidating like an office but like community centers,” she said. “People can have access to a therapist who could screen them and refer them to further treatment if needed, it’s a good place to start with people and meet them were they are.”

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango said mental health is one of the challenges American Rescue Plan funding is meant to fight.

“Mental health has been a challenge throughout the United States is not just confined to West Virginia and or Kanawha County, but we saw a significant impact on mental health during COVID,” he said. “People are cooped up, they can’t work, their routines are completely disrupted, children were having to stay home this had a significant impact.”

Going to a use that fits in with Health Right’s mission.

“Mental health is overall health and if we want people to be able to work and contribute in society, build careers, it’s important they’re healthy behavioral healthwise,” Settle said.

Settle said Health Right will make the specialist a permanent position through sources like other grant funding.

Pollen8, an organization that specializes in substance abuse treatment, also received American Rescue Plan Funding.

CEO Cheryl Laws told commissioners the organization’s funds went toward enhancing security at one of their buildings.

It also went toward adding health insurance for their full-time employees to stay competitive in recruiting social workers.

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