$1 Million Grant for Early Diversion Program Awarded to City of St. Louis Department of Health

Grant funds will be used toward an early 9-1-1 diversion program for individuals with a Serious Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Disorders.

May 27, 2021 | 2 min reading time

The City of St. Louis Department of Health received full approval from the Board of Aldermen Friday to accept a project grant award worth a total amount of $1,648,627 over five years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Grant funds will be used toward an early 9-1-1 diversion program for individuals with a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) and Co-Occurring Disorders (COD) by providing targeted outreach in place of potential arrest. 

 “The first step in helping our residents experiencing an SMI is to get them connected to a network of individuals trained in crisis intervention,” says Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health for the City of St. Louis. “The program supported through these grant funds is a move in that direction when time is critical.”

The program is known as the Law Enforcement and Behavioral Health Partnership STL CARES (Community Assessment and Referral for Enduring Stability) program. STL CARES will provide training in trauma-informed response, Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety, and Veterans Crisis Intervention Teams to law enforcement officers. It will also clarify coordination between law enforcement and behavioral health providers to offer wraparound services to individuals 18 and older identified with SMI or COD. The project will also integrate activities with the city’s housing and homelessness initiatives to promote the health and wellness of individuals with SMI/COD whose conditions are complicated by homelessness. 

The Department of Health will work with Behavioral Health Response to provide this training and coordinate with law enforcement to deescalate situations before an opportunity for the response to turn tragic. The department also commits $131,955 per year of funding toward this initiative as an in-kind match amount. 

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