For more than six years, the Linn County Board of Supervisors has been working with mental health service providers, hospitals, and law enforcement to establish a center for responding to mental health crises. Despite the added challenges of the pandemic and derecho, the dream became a reality in March 2021, when the Linn County Mental Health Access Center treated their first patient.
“The need for more intertwined services regarding behavioral health has become greater and greater,” said Erin Foster, the Access Center’s Director. “The Mental Health Access Center utilizes the expertise of four local agencies to provide services—Foundation 2, Abbe Center, Penn Center, and Area Substance Abuse Council.”
The Access Center provides care for people experiencing mental health or substance use disorder crises, and as the name implies, the idea is to make these services more accessible. In the months leading up to the Center’s opening, our community dealt with the pandemic and derecho, which revealed another barrier to care: language.
Often, disasters like the pandemic and derecho disproportionately affect people from marginalized groups, like non-English speakers. This has proven true in our community, and the Access Center is working to connect with and serve those groups.
“Mental health and substance use disorders do not discriminate,” Erin said. “A large population of residents that speak a variety of languages have reached out for crisis services more than ever before.”
A $2,500 President’s Grant from the Community Foundation is helping the Access Center provide translation services. Through Hands Up Communication—a local company—translators will be available in person and online, and information about the Access Center will be available in several languages.
President’s Grants support emergency expenses and emerging opportunities for nonprofit organizations in Linn County. This grant will help the Access Center bridge the gap until long-term funding for translation services is secured.
“We pride ourselves on providing evidence-based treatment options to anyone who walks through our doors,” Erin said. “By translating our marketing materials and being able to provide services in any language, we will create a truly inclusive environment.”
For more information on the Linn County Mental Health Access Center, click here.
For more about President’s Grants at the Community Foundation, click here.