December 8, 2009

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of


MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Department of Mental Health will celebrate, along with various community leaders and partners, a recently awarded grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for up to $9 million over the next six years. A reception will be held Thursday, December 10, at 10 a.m. at the East Central Mental Health Center in Troy. ADMH Commissioner John Houston will speak at the event, and many community leaders and professionals from the counties directly affected by the grant – Bullock, Macon, and Pike – will be in attendance. Those include Judge Bill Hightower, Judge Aubrey Ford, Judge Teresa Daniels, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage, Union Springs Mayor John McGowan, Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal, and representatives from the schools systems, Department of Human Resources, primary health care providers, early intervention, and the juvenile court system. The press is invited to attend this reception.

ADMH Commissioner John Houston said, “Two hallmarks of Governor Riley’s administration have been accountability and expanding services for the state’s youth and adolescents. This grant wholly embodies both of these characteristics. It will expand mental health services for children and assist families in navigating the system to secure these services for their child. In addition, a partnership with Troy University will provide strong accountability by measuring outcomes to determine what practices are most effective for the long-term benefit of the family and child.”

Parents who have a child that develops symptoms of a serious emotional disorder can oftentimes find themselves in the dilemma of where to go for help. The ADMH grant will be used to fund the ECCHCO Project, which stands for the East Central Children’s Health Collaborative Project. The goal of ECCHCO is to develop a collaborative, community-based system of care responsive to the mental health needs of children and youth with serious emotional disturbances and their families. The grant will be administered in Pike, Bullock, and Macon Counties. It will address the comprehensive needs of children and adolescents by creating a family-focused and youth-driven system of care that transcends traditional mental health boundaries by integrating social services, education, and juvenile justice resources with mental health services for children in a community-based outreach setting.

Prior to applying for the grant, department officials and partners held many planning meetings throughout the communities that included a wide variety of stakeholders such as family members, providers, and child welfare professionals. What they heard from families was that is oftentimes difficult for them to navigate the system to get their child mental health services. Thus ECCHCO will seek to transform the current way communities provide mental health services to one that is family-friendly. When a child presents symptoms the family will have a team of professionals to guide them through what has seemed to be a disconnected maze of services. The goal is to build bridges between agencies and providers through these teams and help simplify the process for the family.

Activities of the ECCHCO Project include developing two educational day treatment programs and one after-school and summer program for youth in two school systems, providing early intervention and pediatric care management services, and providing substance abuse service through trained coordinators. In addition, to fill gaps in service delivery, Care Teams will be established at nine community points-of-entry who will be trained in evidence-based practices and be able to help families and children obtain needed mental health services no matter how children might enter the system. These care teams will include new staff hired through the grant and will allow for information sharing about services between community agencies.

Kim Hammack, who will serve as the grant coordinator for ADMH, says that buy-in and investment from the communities is strong. She said, “There was not one lead force behind the ECCHCO project – the entire community was the lead force for this project.” Among those partners is Troy University, which will direct the data-gathering and research from the grant’s work and produce outcome measures to determine the project’s effectiveness. Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins stated, “I am pleased that Troy University faculty members have been chosen to play an important role in a project that will make mental health services more accessible for young people across our region. Research and service are essential components of our mission and we welcome the opportunity to join this valuable partnership.”

The department will contract with East Central Mental Health Center who will work with the community partners in each area to implement the ECCHCO project. The nine community points of entry will include Charles Henderson Child Health Center, Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center, Pike County Juvenile Court Services, Pike County Department of Human Resources, Pike County School System, Troy City School System, City of Brundidge After School Program, Macon County, and Bullock County. ADMH is one of 20 SAMHSA grant recipients that will develop and expand systems of care for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances and their families. SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said, “Experience has shown that children with serious emotional disturbances and their families benefit from an integrated approach to care and services. [...These grants…] represent a wise investment that both helps preserve families and protects every child’s right to a future.”


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