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

Local News

Transfer of Mallard Cove Golf Course to Chennault complete

Local News

Maplewood schools will remain closed Thursday

Local News

Kinder Future Farmers of America collect, deliver fuel to Lafourche Parish

Local Business News

Disaster assistance request for SW La. makes it to budget

Local Business News

Area LyondellBasell plant receives ISCC PLUS certification

Local Business News

When it comes to headwear, Anne Monlezun and Kevin Mattingly have got you covered

Local Business News

Elizabeth Jimney column: Building a website that works for you

Local Business News

Names in the News: People shaping the future of Lake Area business

Local Business News

Few things please Chloun more than delighting diners with authentic Middle Eastern cuisine

Local News

Nicholas expected to weaken to a depression overnight

Local News

Nicholas weakening as it moves toward SW La.

Local News

Update: Today’s weather-related closures and cancellations

Local News

Nicholas expected to stall over SW La. Wednesday

Local News

Nicholas upgraded to category 1 hurricane

Local News

Weather-related Tuesday closures, cancellations

Crime

Nine arrested in what authorities describe as ‘gang shooting’

Local News

Calcasieu leadership: Tropical Storm Nicholas should not be taken lightly

Local News

LC city offices closed, trash service canceled Tuesday

Local News

Temporary closure of FEMA’s LC Recovery Service Center

Local News

COVID testing, vaccine sites closed Tuesday-Wednesday

Local News

Allen schools will be virtual Tuesday

Local News

Nicholas could turn into a hurricane before making landfall

Local News

Clearing debris from drainage laterals massive, costly

Local News

All Jeff Davis schools will be open Monday