Grants help Sangamon County improve services for individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders

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As a result of reduced state and federal funding, jails and prisons have become de facto mental health facilities at both local and national levels. Staff members at these institutions are sometimes unable to manage this population’s specific needs.
With help from SIU School of Medicine staff, Sangamon County Court Services received two grants to develop services provided to persons with mental illness (MI) or co-occurring substance abuse (CMISA) who are arrested and jailed for minor offenses.
The purpose of the $750,000 Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Implementation and Expansion grant is to create a process to divert adults with a diagnosis or symptoms of MI/CMISA from becoming further enmeshed in the criminal justice system.
The grant focuses on diverting these individuals from the county jail into more appropriate services, while also holding them accountable for any illegal activity. The U.S. Department of Justice/Bureau for Justice Assistance funded the three-year grant.
SIU Family Medicine’s Tracey Smith, DNP; Jan Hill-Jordan, PhD, and Kari Wolf, MD, Department of Psychiatry; and Albert Botchway, PhD, Center for Clinical Research, are assisting the Sangamon County Court Services in the grant, together with Memorial Behavioral Services and community agencies.
In addition, the county received a Safety and Justice Challenge Innovation Fund planning grant, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It will be used to investigate the feasibility of developing a crisis/detox center for individuals with mental health and/or substance abuse issues. “Our goal is to create a dedicated space for individuals who are struggling with mental health and/or substance use disorder, and get them better treatment without a trip to the emergency room or jail,” said Smith, executive director of the Office of Community Initiatives and Complex Care at SIU SOM and the director of population health integration at SIU Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.
Learn more here.

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