by Adam Hopkins, Lieutenant, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Reno, Nevada
A chance conversation about persons with mental illness was the starting point for a new collaboration between the Nevada State Medical Department and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. The resulting Forensic Mental Health Team (FMHT) has implemented new responses that keep mentally ill persons out of jail or help keep them from returning to jail through improved case management and service referrals at release. In this arrangement, the State of Nevada is providing case workers and other staff who operate on-site at the jail. Another element has been the reallocation of some chronic-care mental health system beds for use in acute care, providing an alternative to detention in jail for persons who need 24-hour care. The FMHT model is being implement in other countries across the state.
The author describes the steps taken to launch the multi-partner collaboration and provides recommendations for other agencies that may follow a similar path.
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