Highland Rivers Behavior Health, which provides behavioral and mental health services in Cobb and other counties in Georgia, issued the following press release regarding a three-year renewable grant for suicide prevention for veterans and their families in Cherokee and Pickens counties:
CANTON, Ga. – September 28, 2022 – Highland Rivers Behavioral Health has received a $750,000 grant to improve suicide prevention efforts among veterans and their families in Cherokee and Pickens counties. Awarded by the Veterans Administration (VA), the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program (SSG Fox SPGP) is renewable at this amount for three years.
“We know that suicide prevention is a community effort, a community priority, and the VA has recognized that the strong local partnerships we have — such as with the Cherokee County Homeless Veterans Program — will not only enable us to to be very effective, but also to reach some of the most at-risk veterans in our community,” said Melanie Dallas, CEO of Highland Rivers Behavioral Health. “We just couldn’t sit back and let veterans in our community continue to kill themselves because they don’t have the resources and the help they need.
Highland Rivers Behavioral Health, along with partner organizations of the Cherokee Veterans Mental Health Coalition – Cherokee County Homeless Veterans Program, Marietta Vet Center and Center for the Advancement of Military and Emergency Services Research at Kennesaw State University – are creating a cohesive and timely response to veterans in crisis in Cherokee and Pickens counties.
Through the SSG Fox SPGP grant, the coalition will focus on developing an integrated set of supports for veterans at risk of suicide by creating a multidisciplinary rapid response team that focuses on their behavioral health, housing, their jobs and other needs. This includes providing immediate community support in a crisis and transitioning veterans to lower levels of care, as needed, once their acute crisis needs are met. Referrals for a rapid response may come from community partners and service providers, veterans and military organizations, family members, law enforcement, self-referral or emergency services. emergency. The grant also provides funding for education and outreach activities, support services, and wellness events.
“We have worked with Dr. Matthew Miller, VA Suicide Prevention Program Manager, over the past year to determine how North Georgia’s more than 100,000 veterans can access mental health programs. and suicide prevention,” said Jim Lindenmayer, director of the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program. “The Sgt. Fox Grant is a team approach with focused clinical capacity and veteran community support that we hope will be able to better serve veteran members of our community and neighborhoods.
The need for community mental health services and resources in Georgia has received growing support from the Georgia General Assembly, which earlier this year passed two key mental health bills – one focused on community co-response programs and the other mandating insurance parity for mental health. in-state services; the latter adopted both chambers unanimously. General Assembly appropriations to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities also provided more than $164,000 for services in Highland Rivers to uninsured or underinsured veterans in fiscal year 2022 ( July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022).
“This is a game-changer for the northern metro area,” said Georgia Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, MD, who serves on both the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Veterans, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. of Homeland Security, and whose districts include portions of Cherokee County. “Because of the commitment and leadership of those involved in this effort, I have no doubt that there will be measurable success in the near future.”
Highland Rivers Behavioral Health is one of only two agencies in Georgia to receive a grant from the SSG Fox Grants Program; the other is the Georgia Department of Veterans Services, which will coordinate with Highland Rivers to develop community-based veteran suicide prevention best practices that can be implemented statewide.
“We look forward to partnering with Highland Rivers to reduce veteran suicides in Cherokee and Pickens counties, and throughout Georgia,” said Trish Ross, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Veterans Services. “One suicide is too much and we need to all work together to help our veterans receive the care and support they need and have earned through service to our nation.