St. Joseph County Council approves nearly $ 3 million for mental health center
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Indiana, — On Tuesday, St. Joseph County Council approved nearly $ 3 million in US bailout funding to support a new crisis response center designed for people facing mental health or substance abuse crises, instead of taking them. to jail.
Local religious leaders from the Prison Diversion Task Force, Health Department, County Police Department and others have been working on a mental health center for nearly three years.
Members of Faith in Indiana gathered ahead of Tuesday’s St. Joseph County Council meeting and took almost every seat during it, to seek funding for a true mental health center in the city. county.
The board voted unanimously to approve nearly $ 2.7 million in COVID-19 relief funds to support their push.
âThis is important because everyone is affected in one way or another by the mental issues of mental illness,â said Pastor James Williams, a member of Faith in Indiana.
âUnfortunately, it often happens that this person ends up in jail because currently in our county we have no place to take people with mental health crises,â added Jeff Walker, Executive Director of Beacon Community. Resource. Center and member of the Jail Diversion Task Force of Faith in Indiana.
For Walker, these types of services are personal and, he believes, essential to the community.
âAs I mentioned, I was addicted to crack eight years ago, so these conversations really intersect. We talk about homelessness, we talk about mental health crisis, we talk about drug addiction, âhe explained. “I just wish people in our community didn’t have to linger on the streets anymore and had the opportunity to be in a facility where they can be diagnosed.”
The St. Joseph County Police Department also backed the move, with the goal of reducing the county jail population by 30% over three years and giving people in crisis the real support they need, by especially during the pandemic.
âAll the unknowns related to COVID, the number of calls for mental health services and the number of mental health engagements have increased dramatically,â added Sheriff Bill Redman of the St. Joseph. âWe know for a fact that there are a lot of people suffering from mental health and addiction issues and if we can eliminate that it will help reduce the population in our prison. Therefore, our aim is to obtain the appropriate assistance and care for people with drug addiction and / or mental illness.
Sheriff Redman also said they eventually want a mobile response unit, so that instead of uniformed officers, trained medical professionals can answer sensitive calls and continue work in the mental health center. .
The project is also seeking more funding from the state and they hope the facility can be a shared and expanded space at Memorial’s Epworth Center by 2022.