Chattanooga Launches Mental Health Clinics for Underserved Communities

Chattanooga's Office of Community Health opens mental health clinics to provide care to underserved populations.

The Office of Community Health (OCH) in Chattanooga has announced the creation of several mental health clinics aimed at providing vital care to underserved communities in the city. The services are fully-funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health and will be provided at community centers in neighborhoods identified as having a disproportionate need.

Chattanooga City Council approved memorandums of understanding to provide mental health care to individuals who are underinsured, uninsured, or cannot afford a copay. The services will be provided in collaboration with several of the City’s key community partners who are already providing critical services in the community.

Mayor Tim Kelly stated, “Closing gaps in public health and leading on mental health are priorities of the One Chattanooga plan, and this marks a significant milestone in our work. By partnering with local organizations to make mental health services available, we’re not just treating symptoms, but healing communities. Everyone benefits when people in need are able to get care.”

The memorandums establish official partnerships with local organizations such as AIM Center, First Baptist Cares and Align Wellness, Lifespring, and Mission Medicos. These organizations will provide culturally competent care and support to various demographics, including the unhoused population, Hispanic community, African American community, and youth.

Appointments can be made using a QR Code or by clicking a provided link. The 2023 public health survey of Hamilton County identified mental health and substance use as top concerns among residents, revealing the need for more accessible mental health care options in Chattanooga. As of 2022, an estimated 9.8% of Chattanoogans were medically uninsured, equating to almost 18,000 individuals.

Dr. Geeta Maharaj, interim director of the Office of Community Health, emphasized the importance of access to quality mental health care, stating, “Closing the gaps between those who can access quality mental health care and those who cannot is how we make even more strides in lowering the big barriers holding people back in underserved communities.”

The Office of Community Health was created by Mayor Kelly during the COVID-19 pandemic to empower community health across Chattanooga through outreach and engagement with community members, partners, and center staff. Additionally, the Office of Community Safety was established to address gun violence as a public health crisis, focusing on the goals of the Roadmap to End Gun Violence initiative.

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