TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo-based Zepf Center, a nonprofit behavioral health care provider for youth and adults, has been awareded a $800,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). It'll be used to create a connected health platform aimed at preventing suicide among adults 25 years and older who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has a focus on helping victims of domestic violence who have been struggling to access help.
Zepf Center has partnered with the YWCA and Bethany House Domestic Violence Shelters to provide telehealth care for those utilizing services at the YWCA and Bethany House.
As Kitty Slight, the project director at Zepf Center explained, this is a timely service.
“Across the country, police units or 911 operators were receiving an increase in calls from individuals experiencing domestic violence, but they weren't accessing services because of the quarantines, the lockdown. They were afraid that, so many, you know, the fear of isolation,” said Slight.
Money from the federal grant will also create new jobs such as a case manager for the YWCA and resiliency coaches, which is someone with experience surrounding these issues, for the Zepf Center.
Slight said Zepf Center and the shelters hope this addition of telehealth services helps survivors feel more comfortable reaching out for help.
“I think telehealth is a gentle way to introduce someone to mental health services, behavioral health services, that unfortunately, there is such a stigma attached to receiving behavioral health services. We're getting better. We have more advocates speaking out, but telehealth is a safe, confidential way to begin kind of working on those issues, that perhaps in the past, you weren't comfortable reaching out for help,” said Slight.
Zepf Center reminds everyone that if you or suspect someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please encourage them to first remain safe. Secondly, when they are in a safe place, reach out to a domestic violence advocate by reaching out to the YWCA of northwest Ohio at 419-250-7812 or your local YWCA where there is always a live advocate waiting to assist them.