Anoka County to increase funding for mental health services

The Anoka County Board is stepping up its funding for a program that provides community support services to adults with serious and persistent mental illness.The contract the county has with the Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-Being in Fridley funds the Bridgeview community support program operated by the center.

According to Cindy Cesare, county director of social services and mental health, Bridgeview is currently the only drop-in oriented community support service available to county residents.

And because of increased use, Bridgeview has outgrown its current space and is looking to move from its present Spring Lake Park location, Cesare wrote in a report to the county board.

Bridgeview was originally designed and funded to serve 14 to 16 people on any given day, but in 2012, it served an average of 38 clients a day, she wrote.

“A potential new site has been located in Fridley,” Cesare said.

“It has a lot more room, will be handicap accessible and address the safety concerns of the current location.”

In addition, the added space at the new facility will allow the Bridgeview program to expand and serve more people, according to Cesare.

“The Bridgeview program provides a variety of community support and socialization services which include peer led recovery groups, basic living skills, healthy living classes and organized social activities,” Cesare wrote.

On the recommendation of its Human Services Committee, the county board approved an additional $25,000 in funding to the Lee Carlson Center for the Bridgeview program for the rest of this year, increasing the contract maximum by 31 percent to $17,468.17 per month.

And for 2014, the county will be providing $75,000 more in funding than originally budgeted, increasing the contract 12 percent to $19,551.58 per month.

“This is the right thing to do and it’s cost effective,” said Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah, who also chairs the Human Services Committee.

The increased funding is available in the county’s 2013 budget, Cesare told the county board.

Part of the new money will go to pay the rent at the new location as well as for programming to serve the higher number of clients, according to Cesare.

In addition, the increased county funding will enable the Lee Carlson center to hire a peer specialist to work with Bridgeview clients on employment, Medical Assistance and therapy issues as needed, Cesare said.

In addition, Lee Carlson Center staff are working closely with the county planning staff to identify and align their programming to better access third-party payment sources, she said.

The Lee Carlson Center hosted a breakfast fund-raiser for the Bridgeview program June 4 at Murzyn Hall in Columbia Heights with KSTP meteorologist Ken Barlow as the guest speaker sharing his story of being diagnosed as bipolar.

In addition, Bridgeview members also shared their personal stories.

Proceeds from the fund-raiser went to help transportation for Bridgeview members to and from the center and for social activities in the community as well as for the support groups and the art program.

The Bridgeview program has been in existence for the past 28 years, according to information from the Lee Carlson Center.

The center (formerly known Central Center for Family Resources) is a clinic and nonprofit as well as being the primary provider of mental health services in the county and surrounding areas.

It sees more than 4,000 individuals and families each year.

To learn more about the center go to www.leecarlsoncenter.org or call 763-230-7836.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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