By LINDSAY CAREY
The Main Street Community Foundation has awarded grants from the Bradley Henry Barnes and Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust to a couple of organizations seeking to improve mental health needs for residents of Southington.
One of the three awards that MSCF administered through the Barnes Trust this year was to support the Southington Health Outreach Project at the Wheeler Clinic in Plainville.
The $79,000 grant has made it possible for the clinic to hire a full-time health outreach coordinator, who will work on improving information, prevention and treatment services for mental health and substance use in Southington.
“It’s really intended to help the community of Southington,” said Vice President of Prevention Wellness and Recovery at Wheeler Clinic Judith Stonger. “It will help people to understand signs and symptoms of mental health challenges and find them help.”
In September of 2013, the MSCF conducted “A Study in Community Healthy that revealed mental health and substance use to be among the major areas of need for health care in Southington.
“The study identified the need for more recognition of mental health challenges and for people to be connected to resources, for more education needed in the community, for people to understand signs, and most of all to reduce the stigma or barriers that people might have to seeking help for mental health,” said Stonger.
Funding the full-time health outreach position at Wheeler Clinic through the Barnes Trust was a step towards supporting mental and behavioral health needs of the town.
“The goal is for her to be a resource in the community,” said Stonger. “To help people to understand mental health, connect them with resources, create a resource guide for people to know what services are available, start a monthly committee to discuss mental health care needs and to make sure care is coordinated,” said Stonger.
The new health outreach coordinator for Wheeler Clinic is Justine Micalizzi, who is from Southington and has experience as a health and community coordinator.
Micalizzi also has a bachelors of science in Health and Community Health Education.
MSCF recently awarded a total of $284,000 from the Barnes Trust to three organizations improving health and promoting wellness for Southington residents.