National Conference highlights best practices at intersection of Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health
SAN ANTONIO, TX – Experience Based Practices for criminal justice reform provide hope and direction for better addressing the challenge of individuals with mental illness languishing in local jails across the country. First-hand accounts about the intersection of criminal justice and behavioral health were the focus of a recent national conference presented by the Institute for Behavioral Healthcare Improvement.
More than 150 participants engaged in extraordinary sessions filled with up-to-date and actionable information about community collaboration, mental health outreach and jail and emergency room diversion.
Communities across the country are struggling with the challenges – particularly those involving homeless mentally ill people who are forced onto our streets. Lack of appropriate alternative care often means that they end up in jails – usually for nuisance crimes – where they do not receive the help they really need and clog the system at a high cost to taxpayers.
|The Criminal Justice – Behavioral Health Partnership Promoting Integrated Health Care: Creating High Quality Systems for the Hard to Serve -was held in San Antonio to highlight the community collaboration efforts led by IBHI Board member Leon Evans, President and CEO of the Center for Health Care Services, a not-for profit health center based there. A tour of the center’s Restoration Center and the related Haven for Hope, offered a glimpse of the progress that is possible when community partners work together for integrated approaches to services and resources. San Antonio is gaining national attention for his efforts with community-based mental health outreach.|
|A keynote address by Pete Earley, former Washington Post reporter and author of the best-selling book, Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, set the tone with a message of determination and hope.
The sessions also included overview on three national initiatives now underway with substantial funding:
– Larke Huang of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offered perspective on the resources committed for distribution under the 21st Century Cures Act;
– Laurie Garduque of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation explained the 20 pilot projects in development for Criminal Justice reform aimed at addressing the issue of diverting individuals with mental illness to appropriate care; and
– Patrick Fleming of the National Association of Counties detailed the Stepping Up initiative and available resources to help reduce the number of people with mental illness in county jails. There are various ways that communities can connect to this initiative and pursue coordinated collaborative efforts, starting with simply building some consensus and resolving to address the issue.
There was also a presentation on the necessity of strategic community collaborative effort by Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Directors, a longtime expert in mental health policy. They are tracking progress, community by community and compiling the data.
Click here for the slides used throughout the conference.