Trickle of Covid Relief Funds Helps Fill Gaps in Rural Kids’ Mental Health Services

by | Nov 23, 2022 | Health

NELSONVILLE, Ohio — The Mary Hill Youth and Family Center’s building has long been at a crossroads overlooking this rural Appalachian city, but its purpose has evolved.

For 65 years, residents of Nelsonville and the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio traveled to the hilltop hospital seeking care. Then, in 2014, the 15-bed hospital, which was often without patients, closed.

Later, the three-story brick building reopened as a hub for health services. With the help of several funding sources, Integrated Services for Behavioral Health, a nonprofit social service agency, transformed the building into a site for mental health treatment, primary and dental care, and food pantry access.

In June, the organization opened a 16-bed residential mental health treatment program on the former hospital’s top floor. The program serves children in rural southeastern Ohio and gives families an option besides sending their kids far away — sometimes out of state — for residential care.

“For a long time, we’ve been trying to figure out, ‘How do we support services being delivered more locally?’” said Samantha Shafer, CEO of Integrated Services for Behavioral Health. “Because when you have the programs here, the work you can do with families is more successful, health outcomes are better.”

Efforts to offer residential mental health services at Mary Hill Center, and in other rural …

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