Today, the City of St. Louis Department of Health announced the launch of a new Behavioral Health Bureau with a focus on mental health and substance use treatment. Funded through a combination of state funds and the City’s FY23 budget, the new bureau will help connect St. Louisans to much-needed care and resources to improve health outcomes while improving public safety across our neighborhoods.
“Funded through this year’s city budget, the Bureau of Behavioral Health is part of St. Louis’ commitment to expand access to mental healthcare and other critical services,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “This new bureau will help our city address root causes of crime, like substance abuse, while helping get St. Louisans the support they need before it escalates to a crisis or emergency room visit. This is an important step towards addressing substance abuse and mental health issues, which are regional in scope and need a regional solution.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions and substance use disorders have increased globally by 13% in the last decade. In the US approximately one in five (21%) adults are living with a mental illness (52.9 million in 2020). The City of St. Louis has the highest rate of mental health-related emergency room visits in all age categories compared to St. Louis County and the State of Missouri.
“Knowing that the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse disorders in our community are above the national and state averages and has been rising consistently over the past few years, we have a responsibility to act,” says Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “Our goal in addressing this public health crisis will be to ensure equitable data driven and effective interventions are in place to help our community reach a state of well- being.”
The City of St. Louis Department of Health will be prioritizing behavioral health as part of its comprehensive public health approach. The new Bureau’s objectives include:
- Identifying all community partners and creating a space for engagement, collaboration, and support.
- Developing new ways to share data and materials to address the behavioral health issues facing the city and St. Louis region as a whole.
- Developing a joint plan for advancing behavioral health initiatives for city youth.
- Bringing together stakeholders and partners to address substance use and misuse in the City of St. Louis with strategic planning, prevention work, and coordinated treatment and recovery efforts.
“The Department of Public Safety remains committed to the safety of our residents and visitors of St. Louis,” says Daniel Isom, Interim Director of the Department of Public Safety for the City of St. Louis. “With strong partnerships with the City’s Health Department and the newly formed Behavioral Heath Bureau, we continue to build on innovative strategies to address the needs of our communities.”