A new federal grant will help the Department of Health Services (DHS) continue a crisis counseling program for Wisconsin residents experiencing behavioral health challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $3.9 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funds the Project Recovery program through June 2021. It also allows for the expansion of this program to two additional counties and the creation of supports for farmers.

“Many people have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “There are a lot of challenges right now—mourning the loss of a loved one, personal financial stress, feelings of hopelessness—we want people to know that it’s OK to not feel OK right now and that help is available.”

Project Recovery—launched in June under a previous federal grant for residents of Brown, Dane, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, Rock, and Walworth counties—offers free services designed to promote the development of healthy coping strategies. Referrals to community services are provided as needed. Residents of Jefferson and Waukesha counties now are eligible to participate in Project Recovery under the new grant.

With this new grant, the services offered by Project Recovery are also available to all Wisconsin farmers.

Project Recovery is managed by the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association under a contract with DHS. To request help, call 211 and ask to be connected to Project Recovery or visit the Project Recovery website(link is external).

From June through October, Project Recovery supported 2,027 people.

This latest federal grant follows a previous $2 million grant for COVID-19 response from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to bolster behavioral health services across Wisconsin through August 2021.

From May through September, DHS distributed close to $2.4 million to 38 counties and one tribal nation to support local behavioral health services. These grants were funded through Wisconsin’s share of two annual block grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant and the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.

In April, DHS launched Resilient Wisconsin. This initiative offers strategies for practicing self-care, maintaining social connections, and reducing stress and anxiety.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 for everyone no matter what problems or type of stress they’re experiencing. Call 800-273-8255 to talk with a counselor. More Wisconsin calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are being answered by in-state counselors since a new Wisconsin call center opened in August under a grant from DHS.

For more help resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the COVID-19: Response Resources for Wisconsinites page on the DHS website.

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