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Parish President Cooper joined by Governor Edwards and Archbishop Aymond to break ground on the Safe Haven Training and Education Center

A ceremonial groundbreaking for the Training and Education Center at the Safe Haven Campus was held Friday, May 21, 2021.  In attendance was Governor John Bel Edwards, Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Parish President Mike Cooper, Safe Haven Foundation Chairman Jack Donahue and other state and local elected officials and community leaders.

The purpose of the Safe Haven Training and Education Center, which is estimated to cost $850,000.00, is to destigmatize behavioral health, as well as provide a state-of- the-art meeting and conference space. The training opportunities will help the community to better understand behavioral health issues. Additionally, the facility will raise awareness and build a community of hope for those living with behavioral health illnesses, their family, friends, and those working in the behavioral field.

President Cooper began the ceremony with his opening remarks, noting that earlier in the month he gave a proclamation declaring May 2021 as Mental Health Awareness Month throughout St. Tammany Parish.

“Our goal is to increase our citizenry’s understanding of mental health and to promote treatment and knowledge within our community,” said President Cooper.  “The Safe Haven Training and Education Center will serve as a central location for our healthcare workers, peer support, and family support to come and learn, and to destigmatize mental health.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness St. Tammany is also expected to utilize the Training and Education Center through approximately 120 meetings annually, serving more than 550 people. The anticipated trainings include, but are not limited to NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group, NAMI Family Support Group, Family-to-Family meetings, Peer-to-Peer sessions and Mental Health First Aid.

“Today we ask Your blessings on this project of Safe Haven, which will train people to offer healing of mind, body and spirit,” said Archbishop Gregory Aymond during the invocation.

“We need a Safe Haven more now than ever before,” said Governor Edwards.  “The pandemic has challenged us in a lot of ways, but mental health needs have been particularly acute during the pandemic.  This center is going to serve as a Training facility that will help the community to better understand behavioral health issues, and also foster a community of hope.”

The Center is the first new construction on the Safe Haven Campus since the 1970’s.  President Cooper’s Administration plans to continue expansion on the campus, “in order to grow with the community’s needs.”

“Safe Haven Is our beacon of light for all of our community,” commented Safe Haven Foundation Board Chairman Jack Donahue.

President Cooper then took the time to thank the 22nd Judicial Court, Sherriff’s Office, Coroner’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Ochsner, St. Tammany Health System, Slidell Memorial, NAMI St. Tammany, and Florida Parishes Human Services Authority for their participation on the project.

The Safe Haven Training and Education Center is scheduled to be completed in the Winter of 2022.  The Safe Haven mission is to “provide a collaborative healing environment for the behavioral health continuum by creating a high-quality, coordinated, sustainable and humane network of care anchored in St. Tammany Parish.”

For more information about the Safe Haven Campus, please visit www.safehavenstp.org

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