Simplified: A fund established during the pandemic as a resource to help people afford mental health care has broadened its reach via partnerships with Sanford, Avera and Falls Community Health. Here's what you need to know about Operation Hope.
Why it matters
- Operation Hope started in 2021 using federal pandemic relief funds. The goal is to help people overcome any barriers to taking the first step in seeking out mental health care.
- Since it's launch, it's helped more than 150 people connect with mental health resources, and there's still $300,000 left in the fund.
- Initially, Operation Hope worked just with The Link triage center downtown, but this year it expanded to also include partners at Falls Community Health, Sanford Health and Avera Health. And, importantly, people can access the fund through the Helpline Center by simply calling 988.
"It's just immediate relief that my staff hears – a sense of relief and gratitude that we hear over the phone," Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said of people's reaction to learning about Operation Hope.
What kinds of things does Operation Hope fund?
The main goal is really making it easy for people to take the first step in receiving mental health, behavioral health or addiction treatment, said Councilor Marshall Selberg, who helped get $500,000 for the program appropriated by City Council.
- That could look like everything from paying for an Uber to an appointment to help with co-pays to hep paying for that first counseling session.
The focus is on just funding that first step, so the fund is limited to $500 per person in order to reach as many people as possible, said Alicia Collura, chief of clinical health services for the city.
What happens next?
Selberg said he'd love to see the fund spent down because it means more and more people are getting help.
- He anticipates that if the fund ever does get down to $0, the community and city will ensure it keeps going.
He also noted that anyone who wants to support Operation Hope can make a donation directly through the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.