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Lewis & Clark County working to expand mental health services needed during pandemic

Posted at 6:16 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 21:08:07-04

HELENA — Lewis and Clark County is working on expanding mental health services that are needed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday,Lewis and Clark County Commissioners approved Lewis and Clark Public Health to move forward with subcontracting InStar Community Services and Good Samaritan Ministries for additional peer support and direct mental health services.

Substance abuse, anxiety and depression has been on the rise across the country during the pandemic. And with many losing their jobs, affording treatment can be financially daunting.

Both organizations would be contracted to help those that can’t afford the traditional costs of treatment.

Good Samaritan Ministries, through Our Place drop-in center, and InStar would be expected to provide direct treatment and services needed for those diagnosed with substance abuse and/or mental illness, including virtual options.

InStar would also help healthcare providers with supportive services and training to provide coping and stress management during COVID-19.

“Even if that were the only reason, the only thing that this funded I think that would be money well spent,” said Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Chair Susan Good Geise. “The pressure on these folks is hard to calculate, but it is very very real.”

Funding for the expanded services will be provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Emergency COVID-19 funds.

Because of that, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will need to sign off on using InStar and Good Samaritan Ministries before an official contract can be pursued.