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Extension likely for program that connects transit riders to mental health services

A sign for Chestnut Health Systems, on the Belleville MetroLink platform, shows some of the services they offer.
Derik Holtmann
Belleville News-Democrat
A sign for Chestnut Health Systems, on the Belleville MetroLink platform, shows some of the services it offers.

A partnership that’s helping get mental health services to passengers on the St. Louis region’s buses and trains is likely to continue for another two years.

Bi-State Development Agency’s safety and security committee approved a contract extension with Chestnut Health Systems at its meeting in October. The full board will consider it at its meeting later this month.

Teams of mental health providers from Chestnut ride the MetroLink trains in Illinois and are stationed at two stops on the Missouri side. The program started in Illinois in 2021, then expanded to Missouri earlier this year.

The teams are making contact with about 300 people a month, said Jim Wallis, Chestnut’s director of business development. The majority are homeless, and many are also dealing with substance use disorder and other mental illnesses.

“Some are receptive to services, some are not,” Wallis said. “Our team's job is to connect, build relationships, and get them referred to appropriate services.”

The partnership has received a lot of attention in the region and elsewhere, said Kevin Scott, Bi-State’s director of security.

“There are a number of properties around the United States that have reached out to us about this program. And we're very excited about where we sit with this,” he said.

The proposed extension is for the Missouri stations, at a total cost of $800,000. The agency will merge the two deals when Illinois’ comes up for renewal in March.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann 

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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