Chronicle Staff Report
The CenterPoint Human Services and the Winston-Salem Urban League are calling their longtime partnership a success.
The agencies united in an effort to provide education and services to those in the local underserved community battling mental health and substance abuse issues. Since the union began, the Minister’s Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, National Association for Black Veterans (NABVETS), the Veteran’s Administration and Mental Health Association of Forsyth have provided information and referral services that have enabled thousands of residents to take advantage of CenterPoint’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Now several years old, the partnership has also resulted in mental health and substance abuse awareness training for more than local 60 pastors and lay leaders. Religious leaders gained insight into the various types of mental illnesses; approaches to use with families in crisis; and the process for connecting congregants with mental health providers.
Through the partnership, listening sessions were held in low-income housing developments, where residents talked about some of the barriers that keep them and their neighbors from accessing services they need. Residents cited things such as stigmas, lack of information, lack of transportation and mistrust among the barriers. CenterPoint and the Urban League used their responses to create a plan to address the barriers. Part of that plan was a series of cultural competence training programs offered to staffers at agencies like the Forsyth County Library, Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County Schools, the Forsyth County Department of Social Services and the Forsyth County Department of Public Health so that they can better serve and direct those in need of services.
Veterans have been a key group aided by the partnership. In collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration, NABVETS and Ivy House, the Urban League hosted weekly support groups to help veterans with paperwork for benefit, entitlement, employment, housing and treatment programs.
The partnership is gearing up to expand its reach during its 2012-13 program year.