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New funding aims to bring more mental health resources to Douglas Co.

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DOUGLAS CO., WI -- A lack of options and resources serving those with a mental health crisis can be a challenge in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

But the county's Mental Health Coordinated Community Response Team aims to bring more services to the area over the next three years.

The team, which was first formed in 2013, is a group of first responders, social workers, and mental health professionals who are trying to find new ways to better serve the community's mental health needs.

"We got a three-year grant fund to do some really innovative, like crisis response mental health support work in Douglas County," said Lynn Goerdt, team member and associate professor of social work at UW- Superior.

The team will receive more than $400,000 dollars over the next three years from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin endowment fund.

The funding will support work ranging from new crisis response models to community outreach.

Superior Police Community Resource Officer Brad Jago said, "To develop those new access points in the community, to develop some new care methods, and also to develop a new response to mental health crisis when that should occur."

Members of the response team said in most mental health crisis events the only option is bringing someone to the emergency room, which isn't always what someone needs.

"Which it doesn't turn into a hospital stay, it turns into a hospital discharge and then somebody comes back to their own community," said Goerdt. "And it doesn't make sense, a lot of resources isn't used and help isn't provided."

The response team's work will give the Superior Police Department more options and resources when responding to calls.

"We need to work toward modernizing our response to the mental health crisis," said Officer Jago. "By having different levels of care available to us to take people when they're in different levels of crisis is absolutely necessary to us in law enforcement."

Response team members said there can be barriers for residents to get mental health services in Duluth like insurance and transportation.

They're hoping to make these resources more available across the bridge to Douglas County.

"So, somebody in Douglas County can stay in Douglas County and get the support that they need," said Goerdt.

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Emma Quinn

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