Sarpy County is experiencing a crisis, and we are not alone.
Counties across the country a facing a shortage of treatment facilities, meaning people experiencing mental health crises often end up in a county jail while their cases work through the criminal justice system.
Sarpy County already has taken a number of steps to address these issues, but officials recognize that there is more progress to be made. To lead this effort, Sarpy County established a Mental Health Leadership Team with representatives from the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, County Attorney’s Office, County Administration, Board of Commissioners, Public Defender’s Office and Region 6 Behavioral Health.
The team is studying a number of counties across the nation whose approaches to mental health care and treatment are seen as national models. Those counties include:
- Bexar County, Texas – Over the past 15 years, Bexar County, which is home to San Antonio, has focused on collaboration to identify and treat people with mental illnesses. The coalition brings together law enforcement, judges, government officials, community leaders and the medical community. Two key parts of the program are the San Antonio Police Department’s mental health unit and The Center for Health Care Services - The Restoration Center, a one-stop shop for people in need of treatment and social services.
- Pima County, Arizona – Identified as a model site by the Bureau of Justice Affairs, Pima County focuses on investing in and supporting behavioral health initiatives, including court-ordered evaluation services and behavioral health services for people detained at the jail and juvenile detention center. They also built two state-of-the-art facilities, a Crisis Response Center and a Behavioral Health Pavilion. The county leases these facilities to organizations that provide crisis and behavioral health services in the County.
In addition to looking at model sites, the Leadership Team is also working to coordinate services currently available in Sarpy County. Team members and community partners from across Sarpy County took part in a Sequential Intercept Mapping exercise sponsored by Region 6. The exercise created a “map” of how people dealing with mental health crises come in contact with and flow through the criminal justice system. The map shows opportunities for intervention, where people can be redirected toward treatment.
The exercise also identified a number of gaps where additional treatment options are needed, including the need for a crisis stabilization center for use by Sarpy County law enforcement agencies.
More in the “Mental Health in Sarpy County” series
- County working to address growing mental health crisis
- Coming soon: Mental health and the Sarpy County jail, a look at the numbers
- Coming soon: Addressing the need for a mental health facility in Sarpy County