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Mental Wellness Fund supports mental health programs at county level, YMCA, Intandem

Wed, Dec 16th 2020 08:00 am

At a time when agencies are seeing increased demand for mental and behavioral health services and are dealing with the strain of providing those services safely, the Mental Wellness Fund in Cattaraugus County provided a needed boost in the form of the grants, together totaling $4,484.

Grants from the Mental Wellness in Cattaraugus County Fund, managed by the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, support program services and activities that promote and support mental wellness in Cattaraugus County in the spirit of the dissolved Mental Health Association of Cattaraugus County.

This year, the fund supported three grants, one each to the Cattaraugus County Department of Community Services ($2,300), Intandem ($1,500) and the Swizzy’s Cause Program at the YMCA ($684).

The grant to the Cattaraugus County Department of Community Services was made to support the purchase of computers and technology to allow for same day service for department of community services clients.

Prior to the implementation of this effort, it could take up two weeks for a client to be able to complete patient intake and be scheduled to see a therapist. Now the process can be completed quickly, and clients can see a therapist for an initial intake appointment in just one day, according to Mary O’Leary, director of the department of community services.

“We have 11 hours available each week and average 12 people a week,” said O’Leary. “We have been able to see everyone who has come in, and each person has been assessed on the day they came in.”

To date, the department has seen 44 patients since implementing this new process on Nov. 15. According to O’Leary, the agency plans to begin implementing the same day intake process in Salamanca in January.

The Department of Community Services is the county’s primary provider of mental health services.

The grant to Intandem supported access to trainings for 10 staff people at Intandem to ensure that staff can provide the highest level of behavioral and mental health support.

According to Larry Sorokes, Intandem chief development officer, Intandem has bolstered its services in the area of mental health in the last two years due to increased public demands.

Intandem now employs a staff of 25 mental health workers and recently invested $1 million in additional staff and mental health counselors and the establishment of a new behavioral health center in the former business incubator and call center at 1010 Wayne St.

Intandem also works collaboratively to support a number of agencies impacting mental health, including the Cattaraugus County Department of Community Services, Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services and the state office of mental health.

The grant to the Swizzy’s Cause program at the YMCA of the Twin Tiers will support memberships for participants in the Swizzy’s Cause program.

Swizzy’s Cause is a year-round program that focus on a coordinated care approach to mental health, meaning clients are connected by the program care coordinator to a variety of services that benefit their overall wellbeing, including physical exercise at the YMCA.

According to YMCA of the Twin Tiers CEO Barb Sweitzer, the program has had to pivot its primary focus during the pandemic.

“Mental health issues multiply when a person is isolated. The pandemic has been a perfect storm to escalate mental health disorders and surface new disorders,” said Sweitzer. “During the pandemic, services were prioritized to connect with clients especially those in isolation and ensure they are getting the resources they need (counseling, medication, food, etc.) and enhance the connection through zoom visits and eventually bringing them back to the Y when they feel comfortable.”

Established by former members of the Mental Health Association of Cattaraugus County, the Mental Wellness in Cattaraugus County Fund has made possible nearly $8,000 in grants to support the mental wellbeing of Cattaraugus County since the fund was established in 2018.

Donations can be made to the Mental Wellness in Cattaraugus County Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union Street, Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org.

The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is the area’s supportive, responsive and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).