Gibson Center for Behavioral Change to employ mobile mental health unit

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – Gibson Center for Behavioral Change Chief Operating Officer Ryan Essex said the idea of a mobile mental health unit had been thrown around for a while. 

“Certainly, it’s really exciting to have an opportunity like this to bring something that we at the Gibson Center for Behavioral Change have thought about for a long time but have never had the means or the financial resources to be able to do,” he said.

Thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act through the state’s Department of Mental Health, that thought will soon become reality. 

The center has plans for a 40-foot-long bus that will travel to rural parts of southeast Missouri that don’t have easy access to mental health services in the coming months. 

“The goal of this is just to be able to connect those individuals in those communities to services that may have been lacking in those areas,” Essex said.

Essex said the bus will have health counselors, case managers and peer specialists on board. It will also have a waiting room and three private meeting spaces, one of which will double as an exam room. 

“What we’re looking to do is bring some consistency to some of these underserved and kind of disconnected areas by bringing this state-of-the-art mobile unit to those communities,” he said.

As for where exactly the bus will go and how frequently it will go there, Essex said it will largely depend on demand. 

“If a particular town, if it’s determined that we need to be there once a week, then we can do that, or maybe if it’s only every other week or once a month, then we can do that, too,” he said. “It’s going to allow us a lot of flexibility to get into some of these communities that, as I said, have largely been disconnected from our services.” 

Essex said the unit could be deployed as soon as late winter or early spring.

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