East Baton Rouge Parish receives $1 million for new mental health initiative

Baton Rouge, Los Angeles (WAFB) – The announcement came Saturday that the money is coming from Congress through what’s known as the Bright Initiative. It’s a federal program aimed at treating depression in people with substance use problems, particularly in areas with high trauma rates. While people are still struggling to get back on their feet from COVID, record high inflation is causing more problems for low-income areas. The money from Washington will go to clinical services by licensed practitioners.

“So Congressman Troy Carter, the congressman for this district, was able to commit $1 million through Congress to mental health care here in East Baton Rouge Parish,” said Mark Armstrong, director of communications for the city’s parish.

These services will be located in areas with high crime rates, drug abuse and inadequate housing. The city diocese believes that in order to have neighborhoods that are not trapped in endless cycles of violence and trauma, informed mental health care is essential.

“It can look like a traditional therapy, and we pretty much keep in mind that it looks like a traditional therapy. But it can also look like a non-traditional therapy. Things like yoga, mindfulness, community activities, community conversations,” added Armstrong.

The city’s parish has already committed several million dollars to other mental health programs, even things like the New Bridge Center for Hope. But the Bridge Center is only meant to stabilize the mentally ill. This new program will go directly to neighborhoods in need.

And to address that, to provide mental health care to address that trauma, to break vicious circles and to break generations of vicious circles. So, this is a step in the right direction,” Armstrong continued.

“I am very excited about this. As someone in recovery, who works with people when it comes to trauma and mental health, this is going to be great for our community,” said Peer Support Specialist Tonga Miles.

Miles knows what it’s like to be in recovery and provides input on how the money is spent. In her experience, initiatives like this bring hope to the places where it is needed most.

“Trauma affects everyone, it does not contain any demographic, it does not discriminate. However, we will look at the numbers and see what is most needed. But when all is said and done, we will make sure that no one in our society suffers from untreated trauma, And what kind of challenges when it comes to mental health, he gets the help he needs,” Miles added.

Officials in the mayor’s office say they hope to launch the program by the fall or at least by the end of the year. The first step is to get money

This should be on the Metro Board’s agenda perhaps by this week in order to receive the funds. Next, they will work with stakeholders, voters, and council members to develop a final plan.

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