Bridges to Care and Recovery is a collaborative, community initiative designed to extend the system of care for people challenged with behavioral health disorders, specifically in North St. Louis City and County. BHN works with key partners to include hospital and community behavioral health leadership, advocacy groups, and faith leaders to provide a multi-pronged approach to expand the role of faith-based organizations in the identification of mental health and substance use disorders, and the reduction of stigma to support referral and access to behavioral health care.


Bridges works to increase health literacy and build pathways to appropriate care, while strengthening natural supports in vulnerable communities by:

1. Creating “BEHAVIORAL

Faith leaders and church volunteers in North City and County
participate in extensive training to better support people
experiencing behavioral health concerns and combat stigma
within their churches and community.

2. Connecting Community
Members in Need

Bridges has expanded by adding a Community Connector
component with primary care clinics. When referrals are received, Bridges utilizes a Community Connector to offer a range of brief support and linkage to necessary social services and health care.

Bridges extends the system of care
for those with behavioral health concerns by:


  • Reducing stigma of mental illness in faith based communities by
    increasing congregation participants’ understanding and acceptance
    of behavioral health.
  • Establishing partnerships between the safety net system of care and
    the faith based community.
  • Providing early intervention to divert from the health emergency and
    criminal justice systems.
  • Equipping congregations with the tools needed to develop wellness
    ministries and volunteer programs for long-term sustainability.

The mission of Bridges to Care and Recovery is to mobilize clusters of churches in North St. Louis City and County to support the behavioral health treatment and recovery of congregants and other community members.

To see a full list of participating churches and where they are located


Bridges to Care and Recovery (“Bridges”) was created in 2013 in response to community leaders recognizing an escalating local crisis in North St. Louis City and County, wherein individuals with behavioral health (BH) needs were at high-risk of “falling through the cracks” of a fragmented system of care. Due to stigma surrounding mental illness, cultural mistrust of providers, lack of information about available services, and barriers to accessing care, the BH system is often underutilized by individuals in North St. Louis City and County. Faith based leaders play an extremely important role in strengthening and sustaining communities’ abilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from incidents with negative health consequences. They do this through individual and community resilience.


35churches designated as
“behavioral health friendly”

107church leaders and volunteers
trained as wellness champions

84percent of client referrals who engaged with the Community Connector

Church Engagement

Congregations in North St. Louis
City and County complete 19
hours of training to receive the
designation as a “behavioral
health friendly” church. Trainings
include Mental Health First Aid,
Companionship Ministry, trauma
awareness, resource education,
and more. Monthly meetings and
trainings occur to provide ongoing
support and education.

Wellness Champions

These champions include faith
based volunteers who have
completed at least 14 hours of
training and have made a
commitment to assist in reducing
the stigma of seeking
treatment experienced by people
with mental illness. These
volunteers provide support and
referral to those in need
of assistance.

Community Connectors

These outreach workers have
strong ties to the community
and identify individuals who
have unmet behavioral health
care needs. They connect
individuals to needed care and
services, work with churches to
provide education and referral
information and mobilize
volunteers to enhance natural
supports in the community.

After attending Mental Health First Aid Training,

Of attendees reported
ability to:

those in crisis

to resources

in conversations of mental

To participate in this program or for more information