Barbara Scott
Barbara Scott
Hamilton County Community Foundation, an affiliate of Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), has partnered with Hamilton County and Aspire Indiana Health to conduct a comprehensive assessment of behavioral health needs with the hopes of creating a Community Action Plan that will increase accessibility and affordability for those who need it most.
“Our community already has a wealth of knowledge and behavioral health programs, but we’re working in silos,” says Jeena Siela, Community Leadership Officer at Hamilton County Community Foundation. “A community action plan will allow us to work more collaboratively and deliberately in an effort to create sustainable change.”
Community Solutions has been hired to conduct the needs assessment. Its two-phased approach will start by assessing community needs, resources, and gaps. It will do that by partnering with state and local public health agencies, health systems, criminal justice, and law enforcement partners, as well as township trustees, paramedicine agencies, and service providers to help determine the county’s priority populations and health issues. Community Solutions will also develop a comprehensive listing of behavioral health partners, programs, and services already available in Hamilton County.
“Gathering this information will be critical to informing the second phase of the project,” says Lena Hackett, President of Community Solutions. “Development of a Community Action Plan will help the county identify strategies to reverse the negative trends in mental health and substance abuse in Hamilton County and to ensure that all residents are mentally healthy and free of addiction to drugs and alcohol.”
The Community Action Plan will include county-level strategies highlighting opportunities to connect systems to increase the accessibility and affordability for behavioral health services - especially for people whose unmet needs are leading to involvement in the criminal justice system.
“As it is, we can often only identify these issues when a person commits a crime and ends up in jail,” says former judge and current County Councilor Steve Nation. “We hope this plan will provide a clearer picture of the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse in the county so we can stop the cycle.”
The project is estimated to cost $30,000. The Hamilton County Community Foundation has committed $20,000 to the project with Aspire Indiana Health and Hamilton County each contributing $5,000. The goal is to finalize the Community Action Plan by August.
“There are so many behavioral health needs and barriers in our community that people aren’t aware of,” says Barbara Scott, President & Chief Executive Officer at Aspire Indiana Health. “This community-led, community-driven project will provide the framework we need to work efficiently and collaboratively together in mitigating mental health and substance abuse issues in the county.”