Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sago Counseling Funding Gets Lost In The Bureacracy

In the wake of two recent suicides of Sago employees, comes news from Ken Ward at the Charleston Gazette that the West Virginia Governor has not yet provided to the local community $35,000 of federal funding for counseling services approved 6 months ago.

Over the past three week, Sago mine dispatcher William Chisolm and John Nelson Boni, a fireboss, shot themselves in separate incidents.
Federal officials approved the $35,000 grant in April, but the state has not released the funding to the Appalachian Community Mental Health Center in Elkins.

“We’re not sure where it is,” said Richard Kiley, a licensed psychologist and director of the Elkins center.

Lara Ramsburg, communications director for Gov. Joe Manchin, said the governor has bordered an investigation to find out what went wrong.
The state had originally requested $180.000 from the federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA.
On Tuesday, Kiley said his center and other facilities are continuing to provide counseling and other services to those affected by the Sago disaster.

But Kiley said the idea behind the grant was to do outreach and education to help residents understand their emotional reactions, recognize serious problems and seek professional help if needed.

Residents need to understand, Kiley said, that various emotional reactions from guilt to anger are “normal reactions to an abnormal situation.

“Our goal would be to help people cope,” Kiley said. “It’s partly to let people know how they might react, and also to let them know what to expect and where to go if they need help.”
But Law said that the Center was "not going to be doing a 'large-scale' outreach project with just $35,000 in federal money."