Hamilton County Tackles Mental Illness And Substance Use Disorder In Community And Jail

  • Friday, January 10, 2020

Hamilton County completed a 1 ½ day workshop Friday for the development of integrated strategies to effectively identify and respond to the needs of justice-involved adults with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

Sequential Intercept Mapping and Taking Action for Change, developed by Policy Research Associates in Delmar, N.Y., are two workshops designed to help communities identify existing community resources, service gaps, and opportunities for improved service coordination and communication between mental health, substance abuse, and criminal justice professionals. According to Dr. Henry J. Steadman of Policy Research Associates, “This workshop is a strategic planning session intended to foster systemic change and provide each participating community with the tools necessary to move forward to enhance services for adults with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders in contact with the justice system.”

Key agency administrators, staff, and consumer advocates from the mental health, substance abuse, and criminal justice system in Hamilton County participated in Sequential Intercept Mapping and Taking Action Change to focus strategic planning efforts on cross-systems collaboration, and the reduction of system and service barriers with an integrated, local action plan.

The objectives of the Sequential Intercept Mapping workshop were to:

Develop a comprehensive picture of how people with mental and substance use disorders flow through the criminal justice system in Hamilton County along six distinct intercept points: (0) Community Services, (1) Law Enforcement, (2) Initial Detention and Initial Court Hearings, (3) Jails and Courts, (4) Reentry, and (5) Community Corrections.

Improve the early identification of people with co-occurring disorders who come in contact with the criminal justice system, increase effective service linkage, reduce the likelihood of people recycling through the criminal justice system, enhance community safety, and improve quality of life

Develop priorities for action designed to improve system and service level responses for adults with mental and substance use disorders

Identify potential, promising areas for modification within the existing system

Finalize an action plan

Nationally, individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are an increasing presence within the criminal justice system. Studies have shown that 14.5 percent of men and 31 percent of women entering U.S. jails have a severe and persistent mental illness, compared to less than 6 percent of the general population. Of these individuals, 72 perccent have a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Officials said this problem is especially pronounced in rural communities, where the availability, accessibility, and acceptability of behavioral health services prevent many from receiving the help that they need. With more than 650,000 individuals returning to communities each year from U.S. prisons, and seven million individuals returning from jails, effective linkage and access to community services for people with a mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorder is critical to reduce a repetitious cycle of justice involvement, said officials.

More information on the workshop is available at www.prainc.com/sim/.

This training was funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Criminal Justice Services and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

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