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Grant funds of $1 million help support the Daviess Advances Recovery Access Consortium (DARAC) in providing substance use and mental health services to Daviess County, Indiana.

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Indiana University’s School of Public Health has been awarded a $1 million Health Resources and Services Association (HRSA) grant to bring mental health care and addiction recovery services to Daviess County, Indiana. The project's priority populations are residents living with an active addiction and individuals living in long-term recovery.

Daviess County, Indiana, is a designated Health Professional Shortage Area and Mental Health Professional Shortage Area. The Daviess Advances Recovery Access Consortium (DARAC) will address this shortage through its 15 consortium members, including four health care providers and two state agencies, with Daviess County Peer Recovery Services Program as the core operating agency. The project will implement and test the efficacy of a coordinated care model to increase the number of individuals receiving peer support services and mental and/or behavioral health services and reduce the number of emergency department admissions due to unintentional overdoses or other related substance use concerns.

This grant continues an extensive collaboration between the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, the IU Center for Rural Engagement, and the Daviess County community, with support from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, to develop a community health improvement plan and implement strategies to address the community's greatest health priorities.

"Community-academic partnerships are essential in creating participatory approaches to ensure that the voices of local residents are heard and represented in the development and sustainability of programs, administrative processes, and local policies," says Dr. Priscilla Barnes, associate professor in Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington's Department of Applied Health Science.

Consortium partners include REAL Recovery, DRPERK INC/Serenity House, Central Christian Church (Recovery Central), United Way of Daviess County, Daviess County Connections, Purdue Extension–Daviess County, Daviess County Economic Development Corporation, Mental Health Association of Indiana (Mental Health America of Indiana), Indiana Department of Health Division of Chronic Disease, Primary Care, and Rural Health, Daviess County Hospital (dba Daviess Community Hospital), Good Samaritan Hospital (Samaritan Center), PACE Community Action Agency, Inc., Daviess County Community Corrections, St. Vincent Evansville–Ascension Health, and Indiana University Bloomington.

Jimmy Hay, president of the board of REAL Recovery, says, "We at REAL Recovery (Reaching Every Addict with Life) are very grateful and excited for the opportunity to be partners with DARAC and our community. The REAL Recovery Board invested a lot of time in building a recovery community organization. It is important that the voice of the people in recovery be heard. We need to ensure services are offered to help individuals in active use as well as for individuals in long-term recovery."

"I believe that the HRSA grant will greatly benefit and strengthen the community partnerships that have formed through the writing of this grant, and it will offer greatly needed resources for those affected by substance use and mental health problems," says Brian Peek, Director of Peer Recovery for Daviess County Community Corrections and certified Addiction Peer Recovery Coach (CAPRC II) and Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC). "The partnerships of the consortium of Daviess County will also help change the attitudes and policies surrounding recovery and help create a better Recovery Oriented System of Care for our county."

Local leaders say mental health and addiction services have long been identified as an area of need.

“Our Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is conducted every three years,” said Angie Steiner, Director of Outreach Services at Daviess Community Hospital. “Based on survey responses, we have learned what the community’s perception of needs is which has not always matched what the hospital identified. Mental health has ranked in the top five needs in the results of all three surveys since 2013. Substance use often is related to mental health is a concern for many in our community.”

“The struggles of addiction and substance use are very evident in people who wind up in trouble with the law,” said Diana Snyder, executive director of Daviess County Community Corrections. “There is not hardly an individual who goes through the court system that doesn’t have an addiction.”

Brian Peek serves as the director of Peer Recovery. He works through both community corrections and Daviess Community Hospital to help people with addiction get back on the right track. Peek has been in his role for 14 months and has already met with 135 patients.

“As a peer recovery coach, I am someone who has lived through addiction,” said Peek. “We use our lived experiences in addiction as a way of helping people. I help people who come through the hospital ER or ICU by getting them into a rehab or detox unit. We help them make that connection and then help them stay in recovery.”

Members of the DARAC group agree that this grant has helped create the consortium that has been needed to bring several entities to collectively gather resources in the community, reduce redundancy and strengthen the way we are dealing with substance use in our community.

In addition to the $1 million grant through IU, Daviess Community Hospital and community corrections have also partnered with officials in Knox and Pike counties for an additional $1 million grant through the state department of mental health. Daviess County’s portion will be $432,000 spread out over 18 months.

“We are excited about both of these grants,” said Nancy Devine, DCH Chief Nursing Officer. “This is something very much needed here. We are grateful to have this money allocated here to better serve our mental health population and those who battle addictions.”

“This grant is targeted to get more peer recovery coaches into the Emergency Department to assist people with addictions,” said Diana Snyder. “It will also provide more services to people getting out of jail to help them stay in recovery. I don’t think this or anything else will ever eliminate all addiction in the community, but if we can help one person stay alive, stay off drugs, and live a successful life, it will be well worth the effort.”