Mayor Briley Announces New Federal Funding to Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services in the Community

NASHVILLE (August 30, 2019) – Mayor David Briley announced today – the eve of International Overdose Awareness Day – that Nashville has received $500,755 in federal funds to further help address the city’s behavioral health and substance use crisis. The funds, awarded to three community-based health care providers, will be used to link persons experiencing behavioral and substance use issues to integrated care and mental health services. 

The new Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds, received with the support from the Office of the Mayor, are allocated to the following providers:

“It is a priority of my administration to improve access to services for those experiencing behavioral health concerns,” said Mayor Briley. “That is why one of my first Executive Orders as Mayor was to create the Behavioral Health and Wellness Advisory Council to study this issue and recommend actionable solutions. Far too many families are impacted by mental health and substance abuse conditions, and this new money will provide life-saving medical care and treatment services.”

The Behavioral Health and Wellness Advisory Council was established by Mayor Briley in May 2018 and is made up of a diverse group of public-private stakeholders to work on solutions to better serve residents and families living with behavioral and mental health issues.

“These are complicated social issues and science tells us the root cause is almost always trauma. Instead of focusing on a person’s actions entirely, we need to dig deeper. It’s about providing social emotional learning supports in our schools, suicide training and awareness for Metro employees, diverting those in trauma to treatment instead of jail, and it’s linking those who need our safety net to treatment with funds like these,” continued Mayor Briley. 

“Community health centers fill a major gap in healthcare coverage for the people of Nashville, and the Connectus team is grateful for this funding. It will be tremendously impactful for our patients, and we appreciate the Mayor taking action against this national crisis,” said Connectus co-CEO Suzanne Hurley. 

“This funding represents another positive step toward strengthening our local efforts toward healing our community,” said Mayor’s Advisory Council Member Katina Beard, CEO of MWCHC. “Our programs and support from our community partners will continue to move Nashville in a direction of addressing this very difficult issue.” 

“This funding is critical as it enables us to hire additional behavioral health staff,” said Brian Haile, CEO of Neighborhood Health. “These trained clinicians offer something unique: not counseling or psychotherapy, but brief conversations with patients at each visit to make sure they are on track and the patients get, take, and remain on medications. And when they spot a patient having a problem, they involve the whole care team in helping the patient solve it. This is the foundation of behavioral health and wellness in health care today, and it’s making such a difference among the 31,000 patients in and around Nashville we serve.”

In addition to the activity of the Mayor’s Advisory Council, Nashville is a lead plaintiff in the national prescription opioid litigation to recoup damages incurred across city government related to the opioid crisis from the pharmaceutical industry. The case, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee v. Purdue Pharma, L.P. et al, 1:18-op-45088, will be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, in October.

“Nashville is one of a select group of cities across the county that has a seat at the table. I am proud that we have a leading role in the national settlement negotiations to ensure the needs and concerns of cities and counties at the front lines of the epidemic are addressed,” said Mayor Briley.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the new funds through HRSA’s FY2019 Integrated Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) Awards.

Jay Sheridan