Behavioral health services offered to MetroLink riders

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Behavioral health services are being offered to riders at Metro transit stations.

It’s a partnership between Bi-State Development, which operates MetroLink, and Chestnut Health Systems. The hope is to improve the lives and safety of riders.

Teams of two individuals from Chestnut Health Systems are located in Missouri at the Civic Center and North Hanley locations. The goal of having those specialists at Metro stations is to build relationships with riders when offering those behavioral health services.

Keith Forest rides the MetroLink every day but had not yet heard of this program.

“If it can help people and get them back on the right track and get them back in society, that’ll be a blessing,” Forest says.

Forest says he’s benefited from programs like this in the past and knows it can help other people the same way.

“Get them back on their feet,” Forest says. “Get them in houses or apartments or whatever they like. Get them in jobs and stuff like that.”

The team members from Chestnut Health Systems are offering help with mental health issues, the unhoused population and those dealing with substance abuse issues.

Jim Wallis with Chestnut Health Systems says that’s why building the relationships between the workers and riders has been key, being a friendly face those in need can recognize daily.

It allows workers to follow up on those who are seeking the services.

“Getting them connected with the right services and stay connected is the challenge and protocol of our staff,” Wallis says.

The program first started in Illinois with the St. Clair Country Transit District.

The partnership expanded to Missouri within the last year, now serving more than 300 people each month. Bi-State Development’s General Manager of Security Kevin Scott says this is a security aspect they weren’t able to address until recently.

“There are so many people out here that use our system on a daily basis that are in need of support,” Scott says. “Not security intervention. Not law enforcement intervention.”

The partnership is set to expire in Missouri on December 1 but Bi-State Development is going to the board for approval to extend the program for another two years.

The Bi-State Development board will decide on that extension at a meeting in November.

Scott says the contract in St. Clair County is set to expire on April 1, 2023. When that date gets closer, there will be conversations around expanding the partnership in Illinois as well.