A new Connecticut initiative will increase the accessibility of mental health services for families across the state.

Connecticut will provide a $3.4 million grant for the New Haven Mental Health Outreach for Mothers (MOMS) Partnership. MOMS is a coalition of organizations in New Haven coordinated by the Yale School of Medicine to strengthen families by supporting the emotional wellness of mothers.

“I applaud [the Department of Social Services], Yale, and the New Haven MOMs for their work to get mental health services into the heart of the community,” said Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman in a press release. “Investing in new approaches to connect people with programs is critical to building a stronger Connecticut.”

The goal of the new initiative is to address the issues of depression and toxic stress among low-income single mothers to improve outcomes for their children. The model, currently being implemented in New Haven, will be scaled up to the state of Connecticut in the future.

Funds will be used to create “MOMS Zones” in 12 New Haven neighborhoods. Each MOMS Zone will have a “hub,” a localized resource for mental health, employment and economic security resources. Hubs will be located at major community centers, including the Stop & Shop Supermarket on Whalley Ave., the Boys and Girls Club of New Haven and the West Rock Authors’ Academy, a location also supported by the New Haven Public Schools.

“The driving principle behind this new approach is to match up the location of quality services with familiar places visited by families in their everyday lives,” said DSS Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby in a press release.  “When we make it easier for families to access crucial help in dealing with children’s behavioral health and the stresses that cause adverse childhood experiences, we are also helping the greater community.”

Additionally, each MOMS Zone will recruit the help of Community Ambassadors. These representatives, New Haven mothers trained in mental health intervention, will be tasked with encouraging families to take advantage of the resources at MOMS hubs.

The New Haven MOMS Partnership includes New Haven Healthy Start, New Haven Public Schools, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the Housing Authority of New Haven and other family support organizations in New Haven.