Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Services has received a multi-million dollar federal grant to expand substance use disorder treatment and increase access to other mental health services.
The Des Moines-based provider was granted $4 million over the next four years as part of federal officials’ Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic program. Under this model, clinics offer a comprehensive range of mental health and substance use services and have the ability to care for anyone who walks through the door, regardless of their diagnosis or their ability to pay.
“The intention is to make access to services much easier,” said Monica Van Horn, crisis services director at Eyerly Ball.
Eyerly Ball is a UnityPoint Health affiliated community mental health provider that offers outpatient care, residential treatment and crisis response services. The majority of its patients are on Medicaid or uninsured, Van Horn said.
In 2021, the organization saw about 6,200 patients. So far this year, patient totals have reached 5,370.
It has locations in Polk and Story counties, but sees patients from across 20 counties in the Central Iowa region. It also offers community-based crisis stabilization services in 18 counties, according to Van Horn.
What will Eyerly Ball do with this funding?
As a recipient of a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic grant, Eyerly Ball will receive $1 million each year between 2022 and 2026. The provider received the first round of funding Sept. 30.
This funding will be directed toward patients with substance use disorders as well as patients with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, Van Horn said. In total, they hope to care for 1,200 of these patients over the next four years.
In the coming months, officials will establish a medication-assisted treatment program, which uses a combination of counseling with a prescription drug called Suboxone, to treat patients with opioid use disorder. Research has shown this “whole-patient” approach to treatment is an effective method to address opioid use disorder.
Van Horn said they hope to hire two licensed providers and other staff by January 2023. By September 2024, they hope to have a full caseload of 30 patients.
In addition, Van Horn said the funding will help establish same-day access to their team for patients.
These patients won’t have an appointment or otherwise won’t receive care until a later date, but Van Horn said it’s still important they start the process when the patient has the motivation to come in and ask for help.
“When someone walks in for services or calls in for services, we want to be able to get them in and get a screening or an intake done on that same day,” she said. “Early intervention is so important, and with current wait times for services, we see that delay in people getting treatment and that often results in negative outcomes.”
What is a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic?
This is the second time Eyerly Ball has received a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic grant, which is distributed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA.
They were awarded the first two-year grant, which totaled to $4 million, in May 2020 to establish the organization as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. This second round of funding will allow them to further expand their progress in that space, Van Horn said.
When the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics program was first established in 2014 and later expanded in 2017, it was one of the nation’s biggest investments in behavioral health services. These facilities offer coordinated mental and substance use treatment, all reimbursed through Medicaid, to patients of any age.
By offering integrated services under one organization, the goal is to help patients better navigate the often complicated mental health system.
To date, there are more than 450 Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics nationwide, according to SAMHSA.
When Eyerly Ball received the 2020 grant to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, officials felt obtaining that designation was “the logical next step for us,” Van Horn said. The organization was already serving as a community mental health provider for the most at-need residents, and officials wanted to expand services and reach more clients.
“We’re excited to get started,” Van Horn said. “We feel very lucky to have received this funding.”
The move comes as many Iowans struggle to access mental health and substance use disorder treatment in a timely manner, a problem felt nationwide that is partially driven by the shortage of licensed providers.
A study by the federal Health and Human Services agency estimated the nation will see an increase in demand for behavioral health providers in the next decade. However, by 2023, the U.S. is projected to face a 20% decrease in the supply of adult psychiatrists.
In addition, the agency expects only a 3% increase in addiction counselors to address the 15% increase in demand for their services.