Nada Hassanein  Special to Tallahassee Democrat USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

The Apalachee Center is partnering with Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to open a mental health services center for Frenchtown residents and the homeless.

The mental health care nonprofit will begin leasing the former Bethel Family Counseling and Outreach Center on Tennessee Street. A grand opening is slated for today and the outpatient center, located on the edge of Frenchtown, will begin services in early July.

Research from the Mental Health Council of the Big Bend showed Frenchtown residents reported elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to other communities in Tallahassee, said the council’s chair and Apalachee Center Inc. CEO, Jay Reeve.

That could be a reflection of a lack of access to services in the area, according to the council’s white paper, released last year.

Goals of the Apalachee Center at Bethel include surveying the Frenchtown community’s specific counseling and therapy needs, embedding a case manager at the center to direct clients to local services, and offering telemedicine for adults and children.

“The response that we’ve had from the Frenchtown community and some of the economically challenged areas are that even when there are mental health providers on the ground, sometimes there’s a difficulty in getting them in from the wait list,” said Reeve. That includes trouble landing appointments with psychiatrists, which experts the capital city lacks.

Apalachee Center will relocate staff from its Florida Assertive Community Treatment Team to the Bethel location. The FACT program’s aim is to offer community-based treatment for adults with persistent mental illness. Many of Apalachee’s FACT clients live within a “loud shout” of the Frenchtown area, Reeve said.

It was a “happy coincidence,” he said. “Moving the FACT team to this new building is going to provide more ready access.”

Reeve said Apalachee’s Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness employees will also move to the Bethel location, as the West Tennessee Street building is closer to the bus station and Kearney Center homeless shelter. “We’re trying to move services to the place where the people who need those services either live or show up,” Reeve said.

The Rev. R.B. Holmes of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, which ran the family counseling center previously, reached out to the Apalachee Center to begin the partnership.

With the neighborhood concept, “people can walk to the facility,” said Holmes. He said he hopes the center will help dispel mental health stigmas congregants may have.

“If you look at all the inner-city issues across the country and specifically here, many people go without mental health care,” he said. “It (the center) gives a sign of hopefulness ... People can live a quality life with the correct mental health counseling and medication.”

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The Apalachee Center Inc., in partnership with Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr., will host a grand opening today of Apalachee Center at Bethel on West Tennessee Street. ALICIA DEVINE/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT