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Blumenthal announces money for rural pandemic recovery in Connecticut

US Senator Richard Blumenthal meets staff at the Southeastern Regional Action Council (SERAC) (1).jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
WSHU Public Radio
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, left, meets staff at the Southeastern Regional Action Council (SERAC).

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal announced $200,000 in funding for mental health services in 13 rural towns across eastern Connecticut as part of the 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

Blumenthal said these rural communities have the same problems as any other town or city.

“A lot of folks imagine small towns as being idyllic oasis of no problems, no challenges, kind of small towns in the way that Norman Rockwell would depict them. But in fact just like every other part of our state, small towns have endured hardship and heartbreak of this pandemic time,” Blumenthal said.

The funding will help the Southeastern Regional Action Council (SERAC) add three new staff member positions to provide mental health and substance use services.

“With this funding SERAC will establish wellbeing teams that will be made up of community volunteers,” said Michele Devine, the director of the council. “Their purpose will be to inspire new collaboratives, increase social involvement in our various town initiatives. It is an important priority that we engage and hear the voices of residents.”

The council said these rural communities have seen high levels of substance use, suicide and death due to isolation, social degradation and low community connectedness during the pandemic.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.