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Mental health initiative planned for Bowling Green receives $20 million in state funding

Warren County government

A new multi-county initiative to help mental health and substance abuse services is taking shape in Bowling Green. The initiative is called The Anchor Project and is a three-pronged approach to treat mental illness, homelessness, and addiction in southern Kentucky.

The project was recently granted $20 million in the state legislature's House Bill 1 to fund construction of a patient intake center, a regional office of drug control policy, and life navigation center. The bill containing the state's next two-year budget now goes to Governor Andy Beshear.

Sue Parrigin, a Bowling Green City Commissioner and chair of the Anchor Project committee, said the project will galvanize multiple community organizations to help those in recovery or crisis.

“We just wanted to take a broader look at mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse and what departments or organizations does this directly effect across our community,” Parrigin said.

A patient intake center is planned to be located near the Lifeskills, Inc facility on Lover’s Lane in Bowling Green. Initial plans for the Life Navigation Center, where individuals who have received treatment can get housing and job assistance, will be in Henry County. The initiative is expected to be available to up to 10 counties across the Barren River Region.

The Anchor Project is modeled after a similar initiative in Nashville and is being planned and scaled to be a model for other counties in Kentucky. According to Parrigin, assisting someone in a mental health crisis can alleviate multiple municipal services to deal with other emergencies.

“When you reduce the amount of people in our jails, you can reduce the amount of people in our judicial system,” Parrigin said. “A lot of times they’re being taken to emergency rooms, which is not an ideal place to treat mental illness. So just treating that person with mental illness and giving them a much better shot at becoming a more productive citizen is the benefit to our community.”

More details about the Anchor Project will be released in the coming weeks, according to Parrigin.

Jacob Martin is a Reporter at WKU Public Radio. He joined the newsroom from Kansas City, where he covered the city’s underserved communities and general assignments at NPR member station, KCUR. A Louisville native, he spent seven years living in Brooklyn, New York before moving back to Kentucky. Email him at