BUFFALO, N.Y. — U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D) was at BestSelf Behavioral Health in Buffalo on Friday to announce $3.25 million in grants for the organization.
The money is set to help provide on-call care 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people who need help with prescription drug and opioid addictions; a group that has grown in number during the COVID pandemic.
"People have not been able to participate in their usual treatment regimens that involve coming into the office and having groups and a lot of supports," said BestSelf Behavioral Health President and CEO Elizabeth Woike-Ganga.
"So we've had to be really creative about new ways to support and medication is an important first step for people to get on the road to recovery."
The grants will also be used to get more help out to the public. BestSelf says it will be training community members to recognize mental health issues and teach the first aid skills they can use to help.
"Mental health and addiction challenges have only increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," Rep. Higgins said in a statement. "This federal funding will help BestSelf expand their treatment services and provide vital community education so Western New Yorkers can better identify these challenges in their loved ones and get them the help that leads to recovery."
Dr. Gale Burstein, the Erie County health commissioner, praised the investment.
"This investment of federal funds will improve access to medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder," she said. "We need to continue to think creatively and work collaboratively to connect people to evidence-based treatment.
"This program represents another layer in our community’s opioid response infrastructure, where the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force and dozens of health care agencies and partners are working to address this pressing public health issue."