Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS) recently purchased a property on Lakemont Road, Newport, which will be the home of the agency’s Mental Health Urgent Care Program, The Front Porch. The Lakemont property will house programming specifically for individuals experiencing suicidal ideation or mental health distress, diverting individuals from emergency departments. The desire to create a 24/7 mental health facility started years ago through advocacy work from Betty and Chris Barrett of Newport City. Chris and Betty’s efforts to call attention to the need for an alternative to emergency department mental health care resonated with Kelsey Stavseth, NKHS executive director. Together, NKHS and the Barretts launched an advocacy campaign, hosting meetings, gathering support from community members, healthcare facilities, law enforcement agencies, and other healthcare partners. Support for this program reached the Governor’s office through letters, postcards, and advocacy from local legislators, law enforcement, and medical professionals. In 2023, funding for it was included in Governor Scott’s budget, and NKHS began the search for a property. The treatment facility would also be open for ‘walk-in’ support and would be a priority drop-off support location for first responders supporting individuals in acute mental health crises. The Barretts believe in the power of community, and feel hopeful the goal of better mental health care for the NEK is closer to fruition. More information about NKHS is at www.nkhs.org, or call 802-334-6744 Those experiencing a mental health crisis may call/chat/text 988.
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