The WellSpan Spotlight

Mental health and wellbeing

WellSpan's START Program receives $4 million grant to expand

WellSpan's START Program receives $4 million grant to expand and enhance Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded WellSpan Health's Specialized Treatment and Recovery Team, or START, a $4 million grant to be used over the next four years to expand and enhance the services offered at the clinic. START is a one-stop, certified behavioral health clinic that offers an integrated care experience for patients with urgent mental health and addiction needs, reducing trips to the emergency department. Since opening its doors in 2021, the program has helped more than 1,500 people, often offering same day appointments for care to patients that otherwise may end up in the emergency department.

"START is a medical facility, a behavioral health facility and an addiction treatment facility," said Dr. Mitchell Crawford, medical director of the START Program and director of Addiction Services for WellSpan Health. "Our team focuses on providing the right care in the right place at the right time to get patients on the road to recovery more quickly."

The funds from the grant will be used to expand walk-in hours, increase community outreach through support groups and education, provide on-site tobacco cessation groups and individual counseling, and care for more than 500 individuals each year for a total of 2,150 in four years.

The funds will also help to implement evidence-based practices specific to individuals who are homeless, who were formerly incarcerated, who identify as LGBTQIA+ and for whom Spanish is their primary language. Working with Community Action for Recovery and Diversion (CARD), the START team will also work to achieve a 20% increase in diversions from the justice system by providing treatment for individuals with mental health and substance abuse disorders rather than incarceration.

"We are grateful for the grant funds that enable us to support our patients during their journey towards lifelong health and wellness," said Michele Crosson, START's director. "Many times, patients have multiple needs, and the care can be complex. This grant will help our diverse team of clinicians and staff surround individuals with increased access to the care and resources they need in an appropriate setting."

As the demand for behavioral health and addiction services continues to climb, START is one program that will help address these challenges. Learn more about significant investments WellSpan Health continues to make in our facilities, programs, and services to improve and enhance access to behavioral health services across South Central Pennsylvania.