Superior Officials, Mental Health Service Providers Connect with Residents at Mental Health Awareness Night

Mayor Jim Paine announced he's proposing to devote $50,000 in federal funding for therapy in high schools.

DULUTH, Minn.- Superior Mayor Jim Paine announced he’s proposing to devote thousands in federal COVID relief to help address mental health among young people, as service providers hoped to keep the conversation going at the Mental Health Awareness Night.

Dozens of resources and service providers gathered at the Belgian club on East 2nd Street in Superior, kicking off Mental Health Awareness Month as well.

According to mental health service providers, nationwide in 2020 31% more adolescents than in 2019 made trips to the ER due to mental health concerns.

“It’s important to remember how fast life as a child moves,” said Mayor Paine. “And when we’ve had 18 months, 2 years of COVID that’s a huge chunk of these kids’ lives that they’ve lost.”

Mayor Paine announced he is proposing $50,000 from the $17 million in Superior’s American Rescue Plan funds go to the new Encouragement Clinic in the East End to provide therapy in local high schools to kids, for both the uninsured and undiagnosed.

“The consequences are obvious in our schools,” the Mayor said.

“We have increases in challenging behavior, decreases in academic performance, a plummeting graduation rate. We have a lot of very serious challenges most of which linked to COVID,” said Paine.

Meanwhile, the Superior Police Department spread the word about their Pathways to Hope program.

For the past 5 years, anyone battling an addiction to meth or opioids can get involved with the program in two ways.

First, people can self-refer themselves to the program for inpatient and outpatient services.

The other option is if someone is charged for a drug-related offense involving meth or opioids, like possession, officials divert that charge and send the person through treatment instead.

“Addiction very much goes with the public safety, right? We want to try new methods to combatting these community issues that we face,” Officer Bradley Jago said.

“And we aren’t going to arrest our way out of any problem. So by offering this treatment that’s kind of a different avenue that our agency is taking,” he said.

While these resources do exist service providers say the awareness night was to reduce the stigma around mental health and highlight that more needs to be done.

“We’re actually low in resources compared to other parts of the country. People are not aware of what we do have currently so we hope to bring that awareness,” said Chrissy Barnard, President of NAMI Douglas County.

“I hope those that are struggling have hope and I hope family members and those still living with mental illness find lots of resources and get support that they need today,” Barnard said.

The Mayor’s proposed $50,000 comes from the $100,000 set aside specifically for mental health from the City’s American Rescue Plan funding.

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