No easy solution for mental health care

The American Press

Tackling mental health is a difficult, but critical task for any community. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to addressing the issue.

Simply putting those with mental illnesses in jail has proven to be a failing effort. Law enforcement and judges recognize that it simply overpopulates jails and leads to a vicious cycle where people are in and out of jail and don’t get the help they so desperately need.

Those issues were discussed during a summit hosted by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy in October. Federal leaders said the work, which includes providing the best quality care for the mentally ill, should start on the local level.

Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, told the Advocate that local communities have to pony up the funding for adequate treatment. Not only can it be used to attract federal grant dollars, the services could help those suffering with mental illnesses become more productive members of society.

One such effort happened in Arlington, Virginia, roughly 10 years ago. Cynthia Kemp, currently the deputy director at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Office of the Medical Officer, said the city raised roughly $800,000 for a jail diversion program and crisis intervention team.

Inmates who were newly released from jail were quickly matched up with social services. Also, judges visited them in hospitals so they could receive continuous psychiatric care.

Kemp said the approach wasn’t without its flaws or challenges, but at least some progress was made locally.

Getting a hearty amount of federal grant money isn’t easy, according to the Department of Justice. Since 2006, $98 million in the department’s mental health program has been distributed throughout more than 430 jurisdictions.

There are some exceptions, including the Safe Haven facility in St. Tammany Parish. It receives more than $300,000 annually through a parish public health tax and recently was awarded $5.2 million in federal grants.

The overall takeaway from the summit was clear. If local communities want to provide better services for the mentally ill, it’s going to have to start with them.

Simply waiting on federal support isn’t an option. Neither is sticking with the formula of putting them in jail.””Mental Health Care

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Brumley likes propaganda videos

Crime

Jurors take less than 30 minutes to convict Fontenot of murder

Crime

Sheriff: Body found on the side of the road

life

Team Green Wednesday recycling drop-off schedule has changed

Local News

PHOTO GALLERY: Veterans Cemetery holds burial for seven unclaimed veterans

Business

Commonwealth LNG accused of mowing over threatened bird habitat

Local News

Biden announces Israel has offered a three-part proposal to end the war in Gaza

Local News

Release of 1M barrels of gas ‘not likely’ to ease price at pump

Crime

LC man charged with child porn possession

Local News

Scooter Hobbs column: Everything you need to know (and more) about LSU opponent

Local News

Lake Charles, Sulphur populations down, but Hunter says news isn’t all bad

life

STEM-centric Saturday: Phillips 66 STEM Family Fun Day in the Park this weekend

Local News

Four local educators finalists for state teacher, principal of the year

Crime

Trial begins for man accused in fatal Sherry Street shooting

Crime

GUILTY: Trump becomes first former US president convicted of felony crimes

Crime

Doomsday plot: Idaho jury convicts Chad Daybell of killing wife and girlfriend’s 2 children

Local News

WEATHER UPDATE: Potential for severe storms into Saturday

Local News

Sowela awarded nearly $300,000 to support mental health intiativies

Local News

Louisiana may soon require public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments

Crime

Jury in Trump trial resume deliberations after asking to rehear testimony

Crime

Two injured in Wednesday shooting

life

Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office joins ‘Click It Or Ticket’ campaign

Local News

LDH urges precautions for mosquitoes to protect against West Nile, dengue

Local News

SUV pulled from same waterway where body recovered earlier this week