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Like the rest of Nevada, the Reno area suffers from mental illness and addiction at rates that are far higher than the national average.
Hoping to make a dent in those grim statistics are Reno’s first new behavioral hospital in more than 35 years and, separately, a new addiction treatment institute.
The Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital opened this spring, and the 124-bed facility is ramping up its services in stages.
“We are so fortunate to have it,” said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, who called the new hospital “a godsend” to address a growing mental health challenge in Northern Nevada.
“It’s something that we are seeing at a local level — drug addiction, mental illness — at alarming, alarming rates,” she said.
Schieve, who made access to mental health treatment a platform in her campaign for mayor four years ago, told State of Nevada the issue has touched her personally.
“I have family members who’ve suffered with it, and I’ve seen the stigma that is attached,” she said.
Scheive said the size of the challenge requires better collaboration among state and local governments, health care providers and social service agencies.
“That’s typically something we haven’t seen a lot of,” she said.
The CEO of the new Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital said a collaborative approach to mental health is gaining traction in Northern Nevada.
“There’s more a sense of community here in Northern Nevada, and I think that’s why we’re already seeing a lot of positive effects,” said hospital CEO Steve Shell. “Some of the solutions we’ve been working on are definitely going to lead to more positive outcomes for our patients.”
Also new to the fight to improve mental health is the Stacie Mathewson Behavioral Health & Addiction Institute, which launched in late May.
Mathewson, a philanthropist whose son died from a drug overdose five years ago, donated $6 million to create the institute. It is being run through Renown Health, a Northern Nevada nonprofit healthcare provider.
Kristen Davis-Coelho, administrator of the institute, said its goals include improving addiction treatment, educating healthcare providers and the public about mental health and addiction issues, improving support for those in recovery, and conducting research into what leads to addiction.
“Through a partnership with Renown’s Institute for Health Innovation and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, we’re going to look at all of the different multiple factors that contribute to somebody developing a mental illness or substance use disorder in the first place,” she said.
Davis-Coelho also said she expects the institute to be a voice in a community-wide approach to mental health in the Reno area.
“It is really important that we get those agencies and those entities — both public and private, small and large — all together talking, and develop a network of services,” she said.
Hillary Schieve, Reno mayor; Kristen Davis-Coelho, administrator of the Stacie Mathewson Behavioral Health & Addiction Institute at Renown; Steve Shell, Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital CEO