Behavioral Health Bureau Meets Goals, Adds New Priorities After First Successful Year

One year after its launch, the Bureau has connected residents struggling with mental health or substance abuse to the care and resources they need.

October 17, 2023 | 2 min reading time

When the City of St. Louis Department of Health established the Behavioral Health Bureau last year, its goals were simple and direct: connect residents struggling with mental health or substance abuse to the care and resources they need.

One year later, not only has the Bureau accomplished that goal, but is also undertaking community education and outreach while continuing to provide linkage to care on a daily basis. 

The Behavioral Health team achieved the following accomplishments in its first year of operation:

  • The Bureau received the Better Family Life Making A World of Difference Award for its work thus far on International Overdose Awareness Day;
  • Call volume from residents seeking mental health and substance abuse resources continues to increase. Calls have gone from approximately 10 per week to 20-25 per week, with a further expected increase occurring over the holiday season;
  • Every staff member has received at least 10 mental health and substance abuse training courses and is Peer Recovery Support certified;
  • Bureau staff have handed out more than 800 doses of the overdose drug naloxone;
  • The Bureau has participated in more than 50 community outreach events and
  • The Bureau has distributed about $275,000 in Overdose to Action funding to grassroots
  • organizations who are doing instrumental behavioral health work in the community.

“In its first year of operation, the Behavioral Health Bureau has done a phenomenal job at connecting with city residents and providing them with vital mental health resources,” said Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis, Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “We will continue to develop tools and partnerships with a goal of ensuring that all citizens’ mental health needs are met with an exceptional standard of care.”

While the bureau will continue to focus on mental health and substance use, Dr. Julie Gary, the Behavioral Health Bureau chief, said there has recently been a shift in some of her department’s priorities. 

“We are expanding our reach in the criminal justice and crisis response areas in which the focus is timely and compassionate response to those in behavioral health crisis in our neighborhoods and meaningful opportunities for jail diversion through reentry to the community,” she said. “We are working to form partnerships with local organizations that provide all the resources – housing, job assistance, medical care or mental health treatment – that can help make re-entry to society successful for men and women who are trying to reacclimate themselves.”

In addition to developing its criminal justice component, the Bureau will also be developing some new programs for both employees and residents.

“We will be partnering with St. Louis Public Schools to provide education around mental health and substance abuse,” Gary said. “We are also launching a pilot program with the St. Louis Public Library to provide naloxone boxes in high-risk neighborhoods. Residents would be able to grab a naloxone dose when needed or to have on hand for emergencies.”

Anyone needing resources or wishes to connect with the Behavioral Health Bureau is encouraged to call (314) 657-1585 or email

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