Women struggling with mental health disabilities who are also victims of domestic violence are getting some much needed extra help thanks to a federal grant.
The Retreat, a domestic violence services agency based in East Hampton, announced on Monday that it received a $500,000 grant, to use over three years, from the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women supporting an integrated, new approach to handling multiple problems. The Retreat won funding to kickstart collaboration between service providers in the county.
“For the first time, we will have resources dedicated to holistically addressing the inter-related occurrence of domestic violence and mental health disorders in the women that Suffolk County service providers encounter,” Jeffrey Friedman, the executive director of The Retreat, said in a statement. “The big break-through here is: providers across the county will no longer need to treat mental health issues and domestic violence issues in separate silos. The result will be higher quality, more informed service for our area’s women.”
Friedman said, "When you work with an individual you want to treat them holistically."
The funding will pay for training, for example, those who work at The Retreat, which also have offices in Riverhead, to identify mental health disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder. It will allow them to provide more comprehensive services to their clients.
According to The Retreat, the grant provides significant resources in the following areas:
- Extensive professional cross-training by mental health professionals and domestic violence services professionals in their respective areas of expertise
- Establishing a greater joint understanding of the special needs of women who face both domestic violence and a mental health disability or disorder
- Coordinated outreach and direct service delivery to individuals suffering from both mental health disorders and victimization, with the twin goals of: (a) ensuring victim-safety; and (b) raising quality of life and care for community residents in Suffolk County.
The Retreat will coordinate with the Mental Health Association in Suffolk County, and Parents for Megan’s Law—Crime Victims Center, an organization that provides services to survivors of sexual assault and other violent crimes.