Ivins partners with Southwest Behavioral Health Center, approves annual suicide prevention funding

IVINS — The Southwest Behavioral Health Center secured annual funding for suicide prevention over the next five years during the Ivins City Council meeting Monday evening.

The Ivins City Council discusses a number of action items on the agenda in Ivins, Utah, on July 15, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

Council members unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the Southwest Behavioral Health Center. While not a legally binding document, with the approval of the memorandum, the council agreed to allocate $2,660 each year to the center in order for the entity to maintain a full-time licensed prevention specialist and coalition coordinator for the Reach4Hope Coalition. The annual amount is calculated based on a population estimate of $0.38 per person using numbers gathered from the United State Census Bureau.

Logan Reid, director of prevention and education services, wrote to the council on April 23 to explain the nature of the request, the urgent need and additional sources of funding:

As I am sure you know, our youth and adult suicide rate is increasing rapidly, and we are seeing an increase in the number of kids who report high depressive symptoms and suicide ideation, and an increasing number of youth who are self-harming as a coping strategy for their depression, loneliness and other behavioral struggles.

Teresa Willie, a licensed prevention specialist who has worked with the Southwest Behavioral Health Center for 20 years, will become the prevention specialist and coalition coordinator. Willie will fulfill a full-time, benefited position, which includes $40,740 annual salary and $25,000 in benefits. The company estimates the total expense for personnel, nonpersonnel and operating costs to be $102,260.

Residents of Ivins discuss agenda items during a city council meeting in Ivins, Utah, on July 15, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

Reid said in his letter that in order to sustain the position, however, they “need the help of our local communities,” and a number of organizations and cities have already approved the allocation of funds for this project.

The Southwest Behavioral Health Center, Washington County School District and State Division of Mental Health pledged tens of thousands of dollars each for nonpersonnel costs, HOPE Squad funding and coaching with the Social Development and Research Group at the University of Washington.

The program is also requesting over $27,000 from the city of St. George, $20,520 from the Washington County Commission and $7,220 from Washington City.

“We feel a sense of urgency to address this issue now, and we believe that this evidence-based model is the best, most effective way to do so,” Reid wrote. “It will take time to see results, which is why we would like to make it a five-year project, with specific goals to accomplish within that time frame.”

Lane Mecham, the Ivins director of finance, said this is the project’s first full year of operation, and the Southwest Behavioral Health Center provided its own financing last year to start the process. The committed expenditure will be coded to the city’s general fund.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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