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Workshop aims to help combat opioid crisis

Times West Virginian - 5/31/2018

May 31--MORGANTOWN -- Congressman David McKinley, of West Virginia's1st District, sponsored a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) workshop for developing competitive grant applications in an effort to continue to combat the Mountain State's current opioid crisis.

SAMHSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation, according to the SAMHSA website. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

The workshop in Morgantown on Wednesday consisted of SAMHSA presentations from representatives that focused on applying for grants, funding opportunities, evaluation criteria, participant protection guidelines, preparing a budget, submitting an application and reviewing summary statements.

McKinley said that all of this was brought to Morgantown with the goal of "getting down to the fundamentals."

He said that in Congress' research in Washington, they've found and identified that at every one of their meetings, regardless of topic, whether it be senior citizens or education, etc., substance abuse always comes up.

"In turn, I'd say, 'Have you filed an application, and they would say 'I don't know how to do that,'" McKinley said. "We heard that so many times. I've had long conversations with SAMHSA in Washington, and I would ask 'What do we have to do to get our level of applications up?'"

McKinley said that West Virginia is noted for not filing for SAMHSA grants, so he wanted to put forth an effort to try to get the process simplified and seem not so daunting.

"I think people are overwhelmed with it right now, not knowing the cost to do it, do they have to hire this person or that person," McKinley said. "We are hoping SAMHSA, the leading agency in Washington, is going to do it in a simplified way so that people can relax and get peace of mind to go after it and find out."

McKinley said that as a state, West Virginia has not been aggressive in pursuing grants to help combat the opioid problem. He said that statistically, New Hampshire, the state with the second largest opioid problem, gets 25 percent more money than West Virginia, which has 50 percent more population in comparison.

"If you do the math, something is wrong with this picture," McKinley said. "They've done a better job at applying, so we are trying to get down to the basics. We are focusing on 20 counties in my district. Let's do a better job applying for grants and increase the competitiveness because each of these grants, the funds could go to California, Iowa, or Illinois. We have to find a way to make it attractive for them to want to put the money in West Virginia."

McKinley said that his office will obtain the Powerpoint from the workshop on Wednesday so that they have the opportunity to repeat the workshop. Even with the

120 people who did RSVP to the workshop, he said there are still other groups that could benefit from the presentation. He hopes to have miniature meetings like the workshop to continue spreading the education of applying for these specific grants.

"We've got a commitment of getting (the crisis) resolved quickly before we lose more of this generation, but there's no silver bullet. There's no one answer," McKinley said. "We have got to get is resolved... It's every family. Let's find out what the solution is."

For more information, residents of the first Congressional district are encouraged to contact McKinley's office in Morgantown at 304-284-8506 or in Washington, D.C. at 202-225-4172.

Email Kaitlyn Neff at kneff@timeswv.com and follow her on Twitter at @kneffTWV.

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(c)2018 the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.)

Visit the Times West Virginian (Fairmont, W. Va.) at www.timeswv.com

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