USDA LOAN OF $9.9 MILLION WILL HELP INITIATE THE $14 MILLION PROJECT
Mansfield, CT – Members of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation, including U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has approved United Services’ application for a $9.9 million loan.
Approval of the financing will allow United Services, a non-profit community behavioral health care center, to borrow funds to construct a new Windham Region Behavioral Health Center in a region of the state where a recent Community Health Needs Assessment determined Mental Health was the No. 1 need.
The new facility would co-locate adult and family services on public transit routes in Mansfield just over the Windham town line. The $14 million project is shovel-ready and integrates several green technologies, has the strong support of the Windham Regional Chamber of Commerce and has been granted all zoning and site plan approvals from the Town of Mansfield.
Since the start of the Great Recession, United Services Outpatient Mental Health volume has more than doubled – and as of 2016 is now 256% the volume of the community behavioral health center’s outpatient mental health services provided in 2007, with no end in sight to the increased demand for services.
“We appreciate the leadership of our Congressional delegation in helping to make behavioral health care a higher priority in the nation, and remain hopeful that the State of Connecticut will also become a partner in this long-overdue expansion,” said United Services President/CEO Diane L. Manning. “Behavioral health care is as important, if not more important, in efforts to maintain healthy bodies and minds, yet public policy and support for mental wellness has yet to receive the same support as physical health.”
“Expanding and consolidating these vital services on a public transit line will help ensure improved service to residents of the Windham region, while every dollar invested in the Windham Region Clinical Center can also achieve significant taxpayer savings by diverting care from the more expensive alternatives of hospitals, prisons, and emergency room admissions,” added Manning.
The Congressional Delegation members strongly supported the project in a joint letter to the USDA in June. You can read that letter here.
“Accessible and quality mental health services are some of the most urgent needs in the Windham area, and this new facility will ensure that the people of this region have the support and care they need,” Congressman Courtney said. “United Services is on the front lines of providing high quality care in eastern Connecticut, and I am proud to have worked to secure the resources needed to build this new center.”
“This major federal loan enables United Social & Mental Health Services to provide expanded high quality behavioral health care and social services to thousands of Windham adults and children,” Senator Blumenthal said. “Communities across Connecticut are in dire need of locally-based mental health and addiction services— particularly as our nation’s opioid crisis reaches epidemic proportions. I applaud this investment and look forward to continuing to support this important project as it moves forward.”
“The mental health care system is broken and I’ve made it my mission in the Senate to fix it. I’ve heard countless stories from families across Connecticut who are desperate to get their loved ones the mental health services they need,” said Senator Murphy. “Today’s announcement is great news for these families because it means that the employees of United Social & Mental Health Services and the people I met at Generations today will have better access to the high quality behavioral health services they need and deserve.”
United Services continues to seek the support of the Governor and the Windham Regional General Assembly Delegation in its effort to secure state Bond Commission assistance in the project. The agency has sought state support since 2011, and will soon launch a capital campaign to help secure the additional funding needed for the project. Currently United Services is seeking a state investment of $3.5 million towards the costs of the expansion and consolidation of behavioral health services.
Adults in the Windham Region are currently served at United Services Willimantic clinical office, while children and families in need of behavioral health services are currently served in United Services Columbia clinical offices, which is not on a public transporation route.
The existing United Services Willimantic clinic space was constructed in the 1950s and includes space leased from Windham Hospital. The facility cannot accommodate the existing or expected growth in demand for services, nor accommodate co-located services for children and families, including services offered by the United Services Center for Autism. Federal Health Care Reform and other government mandates also require that United Services begin offering integrated primary care for clients with Serious Mental Illness, who die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population due to the additional challenges and complications their treatment requires.
United Services is currently involved in Connecticut’s Behavioral Health Home initiative to provide and manage primary health care and promote wellness initiatives for clients who have incurred high hospitalization costs, seeking to improve the health care of individuals while saving state taxpayers significant dollars. United Services was also recently competitively selected to implement the InSHAPE pilot project to promote healthy living among many of the clients it serves, and has was one of five agencies selected by the State of Connecticut to participate in state efforts to secure a federal Certified Community Behavioral Health Center planning grant.
The USDA loan announcement was made Thursday at a Mental Health Forum organized by Murphy to gain input into his Mental Health Reform legislation intended to provide long-overdue federal supports to community behavioral health care.
About United Services, Inc.
United Services, Inc. is a private, non-profit and comprehensive behavioral health center, creating healthy communities throughout northeast Connecticut for over 50 years through mental health and social service programs, chemical abuse treatment, domestic violence programs, and community behavioral health prevention and education programs. With 12 locations and a staff of over 250, United Services operates more than 30 separate behavioral health programs, including the only domestic violence shelter for women and children in the region. United Services is also the designated Youth Service Bureau in 10 towns within its service area, and its Center for Autism has recently brought specialized treatment and programs for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families to eastern Connecticut and surrounding areas. United Services, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. To learn more, visit www.UnitedServicesCT.org.