The latest MPTA Education Series event on December 8 looked at Addressing Behavioral Health on Transit Systems with Stacy Nonn, Associate Director of Comprehensive Integration with Chestnut Health, Emily Schwaegel, Behavioral Health Outreach Coordinator with Chestnut Health.
The impetus behind the initial program launch through the St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) in St. Clair County, IL was behavioral issues on the St. Louis system that were not police issues i.e. sleepers on system, substance abuse on system, homelessness and other mental health incidents. Nonn and Schwaegel outlined what the team is doing on the MetroLink system in Illinois and protocols that could be used on any system. Since the program launch in April 2021, Chestnut staff have provided services to more than 845 riders including shelter, food, treatment, and other needs.
The mental health team works alongside MetroLink security staff and SCCTD ambassadors to identify problem routes, routines and behavioral health outreach. The team connects riders with shelters, food pantries, service sites and hospitals where people may access services. The goal is connection to services to help individuals who may be in crisis.
“This program is a pilot project, and there are no other examples around the country. The key is the program is changing as we move through the first year to meet the needs in the community,” said Nonn.
Project goals include diminish use of system by ‘all day riders;’ diminish use of alcohol, drugs, and other problematic behavior; detect riders with mental health needs early, before patterns develop; improve overall ambience and experience for riders; convene metro area social service and treatment providers to work with identified clients; and secure funding to expand program.
For more information, www.chestnut.org