Columbia Housing Authority's new partnership promotes wellness

Thursday, October 6, 2011 | 7:19 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Residents of Oak and Paquin towers will now have access to mental health services without having to leave their buildings.

The Columbia Housing Authority and Burrell Behavioral Health have partnered to form the Housing, Outreach, Mental Health Wellness and Empowerment Partnership Project.

Two community support specialists and one qualified mental health provider will work Monday through Friday, alternating between the towers. They will offer van transportation to Burrell, crisis intervention, wellness programs, depression support groups, substance abuse programs, financial budgeting and group empowerment, according to a description of the project.

Services will start Monday. They are free, and every resident will have access.

The services are not just for people in crisis, said Phil Steinhaus, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority. The organization's goals are to help people live mentally well and independent lives.

The towers provide housing to seniors and people with disabilities.

“We’re really excited to have Burrell put staff resources on site because they actually have a number of clients living in these buildings,” Steinhaus said.

Before this partnership, residents of the towers had to travel to Burrell facilities at 1805 E. Walnut St. to receive services.

The partnership came about because people realized the two organizations could achieve more working together, said Annie Juve, vice president of operations for the central region Burrell.

“Burrell Behavioral Health has long recognized the importance of combining support services with affordable housing,” Juve said.

The program is funded through Burrell funding sources and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

“We’re not a mental health facility, but we do have folks that, from time to time, need some assistance, and so that’s what this partnership is going to do,” Steinhaus said.

“Anything that gets people up, out, moving and engaging with other people can be preventive in nature," Steinhaus said.

He said he hopes the project will help residents prevent depression or other issues, such as poor housekeeping or alcohol or drug abuse, that could stem from depression.

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