Micah Heckert has seen how mental health needs can impact people’s abilities to move ahead with their lives.
They might have stopped taking medication because they encounter undesirable side effects. They might have expired prescriptions or have recently been released from prison and can’t access what they need.
For others, undiagnosed depression or anxiety or other concerns can leave them feeling stuck.
“For a long time, we didn’t have the tools to bridge the gaps some individuals experience regarding their mental health needs,” says Heckert, Manager of Guest Services at LifePath Christian Ministries. “At times, it has impacted our ability to holistically care for some of the guests we want to serve.”
LifePath has chosen to earnestly invest in building community partnerships to fill the voids in serving York County’s homeless population. While LifePath can offer hot meals, a safe place to sleep, a fresh shower, and a connection to life-changing programs, there are many complexities and barriers to helping someone embark on a new path.
WellSpan Philhaven, a non-profit behavioral healthcare organization, wanted to fill that gap. With a $4 million Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic grant from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and funding from WellSpan York Health Foundation, it launched WellSpan START (Specialized Treatment and Recovery Team), a first-of-its-kind clinic aimed to treat urgent mental health and addiction needs.
Telehealth services started in August 2020. In-person care launched May 2021 in the Loretta Clairborne Building at 605 S. George St. in York. With close to 30 community partners, including LifePath Christian Ministries, the program has served several hundred people with services that provide stability and connection to organizations that can provide more comprehensive care.
“We can’t do this alone,” says Dr. Mitchell Crawford, Medical Director of WellSpan START. “Nobody can do it alone. Our goal is to work together with every resource that we have to help people the best way that we can.”
‘We’re just getting started’
The impact, while early, has been tremendous.
There are stories every day of someone receiving important medications, getting to talk to a therapist, or receiving the proper assessments in a timely manner that helps them avoid lengthy waits or going to the Emergency Room.
“There are people in tears with relief for what we can provide them,” says Michele Crosson, Project Director with WellSpan START. “We’re just getting started in making an impact with mental health care. I’m excited to see the work that we can do — not just in this building, but with the partners who help us change lives.”