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Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced two federal grants totaling $3,250,000 awarded to BestSelf Behavioral Health. Funded through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the grant will provide 24/7 on-call care for prescription drug and opioid addiction treatment, as well as community mental health first aid training.

“Mental health and addiction challenges have only increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Congressman Higgins. “This federal funding will help BestSelf expand their treatment services and provide vital community education so Western New Yorkers can better identify these challenges in their loved ones and get them help that leads to recovery.”

In the Western New York region, which includes eight counties, over 72,000 people struggle with opioid use disorders from prescription or illicit drug use.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer a central resource in the form of a virtual hub that will provide 24/7 immediate access to medication assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder,” stated Elizabeth Woike-Ganga, President & Chief Executive Officer, BestSelf Behavioral Health. “This generous funding and the support of Congressman Higgins is vital to our efforts and we are looking forward to working with multiple community partners on this project.”

“This is a pivotal moment in our ability to provide equitable access to treatment for opioid use disorder in Western New York.  It is unique in that it unites County, Treatment Agency and University based professionals, all with expertise and dedication to serving people suffering from the devastating and deadly disease of Addiction. My hope is that we can create a national model which can be widely adopted,” said Tildabeth Doscher MD MPH, Director, UBAM Fellowship, University at Buffalo (UB) Addiction Medicine.

“This investment of federal funds will improve access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “We need to continue to think creatively and work collaboratively to connect people to evidence-based treatment. This program represents another layer in our community’s opioid response infrastructure, where the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force and dozens of health care agencies and partners are working to address this pressing public health issue.”

“We are proud to partner with Best Self Behavioral Health on this grant to expand telemedicine initiatives and to increase access to care through the MATTERS electronic referral platform. Through this partnership, we will reach many more patients suffering with opioid use disorder and provide rapid access to medication assisted treatment,” said Caleigh Loughran, Program Manager, New York MATTERS (Medication Assisted Treatment & Emergency Referrals).

The funding from the Medically Assisted Treatment – Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction grant (MAT-PDOA) totals $2,625,000 over five years, providing $525,000 each year. It will be used to expand, enhance, and sustain access to medication-assisted treatment and services for individuals with opioid use disorders. These services will reach 465 people over five years. Through this program, nine physicians board-certified in addiction medicine will provide 24/7 on-call care in a new regional virtual MAT center.

The Mental Health Awareness Training grant (MHAT) totals $625,000 over five years, providing $125,000 annually to support the BestSelf Mental Health First Aid Community Training Project. The project will provide mental health first aid training for adults, teens, and youth to students, school personnel, and members of the community in Erie and Niagara counties. The goal is to train 4,740 individuals over five years, providing the community with the knowledge, skills and resources to identify mental health issues and connect people with the care they need. The program focuses on children 12 to 18 and adults 18 and older experiencing behavioral health challenges, as well as those who are at an increased risk for behavioral health issues due to challenges such as living in poverty or experiencing a crisis.

BestSelf Behavioral Health provides a wide range of programs and services for the Western New York Community, including mobile mental health and substance abuse disorder services, education and vocational supports, homeless outreach and housing, community and school-based programs, as well as mental health and child protection professionals for children. Residents can reach out to BestSelf Behavioral Health 24/7 by calling 716-884-0888 or using the online web chat at www.bestself.org.