The goal of this bureau is to focus on the mental health needs and substance abuse problems within St. Louis. The Department of Health is looking to hire 14 salary positions for the Behavioral Health Bureau, which is funded in part from the city’s budget, with additional money from the Department of Health and Senior Services.
“Our Behavioral Health Bureau stood up by the Department of Health is a key step forward towards addressing crime in our city,” Mayor Tishaura Jones said.
One of the main focuses is access to mental health care. Director of Health Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis said the city is in need of these services.
“There’s a lot of people working in silos and doing great work that do not have the capacity to coordinate services so that if someone is in crisis here, how do we get them to the help they need immediately,” Dr. Hlatshwayo Davis said.
The City of St. Louis has the highest rate of mental health-related emergency room visits in all age categories compared to St. Louis County and the State of Missouri.
The CDC is also offering help. Seven CDC experts will be spending a year with the department to lead the Overdose Data to Action Program, which will give St. Louis data-driven information about substance abuse in the city. The goal is to target specific areas to address and mitigate the problem.
Dr. Hlatshwayo Davis said one of the goals before the end of this fiscal year is to launch an online dashboard of specific services being offered at that moment to people in need of help with mental health or substance use issues.
The City of St. Louis Department of Health will be prioritizing behavioral health as part of its comprehensive public health approach. The new Bureau’s objectives include:
- Identifying all community partners and creating a space for engagement, collaboration, and support.
- Developing new ways to share data and materials to address the behavioral health issues facing the city and St. Louis region as a whole.
- Developing a joint plan for advancing behavioral health initiatives for city youth.
- Bringing together stakeholders and partners to address substance use and misuse in the City of St. Louis with strategic planning, prevention work, and coordinated treatment and recovery efforts.