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Valley View awarded grant for mental health services

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A grant to provide free mental health treatment to area residents has been awarded to Valley View Health Center and services are expected to be available later this year.

Provided through the John A. Hartford Foundation, a grant of $350,000 to be spent over two years was officially awarded Monday and will be used along with matching county funds for depression counseling as well as treatment for related mental illnesses, all at no charge to patients within the Valley View network of clinics.

“It’s really important to stress that we are providing these services regardless of their ability to pay,” said Valley View Behavioral Health Director Dr. Tre Normoyle, stating organizers expect the program will be of significant benefit to those in the area otherwise able to afford mental health treatment.

Dr. Normoyle will be part of the group that organizes and implements mental health services, which are expected to be available through the Valley View clinics in Toledo, Onalaska and Chehalis by the end of the summer. One of the populations Dr. Normoyle identified as most in need to services are high-utilizers of the jail system whose crimes are connected with mental stability.

“That’s what this is designed for, to help those individuals,” she said.

Many officials within Lewis County have raised concerns over the lack of mental health treatment locally, repeatedly stating most criminals with mental illness only receive treatment while incarcerated and quickly re-offend when they destabilize after being released. It was this sentiment that had prompted Lewis County Commissioners to pass a sales tax increase of 0.1% in June of 2011 to generate funding for mental health and drug treatment programs.

Valley View’s proposal received funding in February of this year, as they needed matching funds available before applying for the grant, and was the first program specific to mental health that made use of the roughly $900,000 generated annually by the tax increase ($400,000 of which is dedicated each to drug treatment and mental health with the remaining $100,000 placed in reserves).

Programs to also utilize mental health funding include Reliable Enterprises (a halfway house) and Lewis County Shelter Project (a homeless shelter), both of whom purchased extra bed space for those they service.

Both grant and county funding have been offered for the next two years with an option for a third year based upon the success of the program. After the program is up and running, Valley View will craw equally from both monies on a reimbursement basis.

Valley View Project Manager/Grant Writer Heidi Zipperer said, while medical specialists are being hired and the program outfitted during the next few months, local residents who wish to become involved are always welcome to volunteer to help.

“We are always recruiting volunteers in several capacities,” she said, stating current efforts to provide mental health treatment have been the result of several community members who have pushed for viable treatment programs, even of the last few decades.

To find out more about the status of the mental health program, or about other services provided at area clinics, go to Valley View’s web site at www.vvhc.org.

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