Last Thursday, August 11, more than 75 police officers, sheriff’s deputies, court officials and mental health professionals joined Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at Swope Health Services.
A roundtable of 10 Jackson County law enforcement and mental health professionals assembled to discuss how the governor’s mental health initiative is working to strengthen public safety.
Swope Health Services, which provides mental health services for individuals of all ages regardless of income, hosted the event.
Gov. Nixon noted how his 2013 strategic mental health initiative provided new Community Mental Health Liaisons to work with police departments and the courts. The goal of the liaisons, he said, is to facilitate access to care and improve the coordination of mental health services.
The governor introduced Cheryl D. Reed, SHS Community Mental Health Liaison, to kick off the discussion of how the program is working.
Cheryl, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s in Social Work, noted that she attends municipal court about three times a week. She is there to screen offenders who’ve been identified by either a judge or an attorney as needing mental health support. Cheryl assesses them for eligibility in Jackson County Mental Health Court, which then provides treatment and resources. If the individual successfully completes the six-month treatment, charges can be dropped.
“I get around 75 to 100 police reports that are specifically around people with mental health issues,” Cheryl said. “I try to follow up on all those reports and help get people engaged in our services.”
She continued: “Sometimes we get some really high users of
9-1-1 that are really problematic and we will go to their homes. I go with a CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) officer to the home to try and engage them in the services.”
Cheryl noted that another part of her work is to engage police officers on dealing with clients with mental health issues. “I try to educate them about resources that will help them deal with people with mental health issues,” she said.
In the roundtable discussion, other participants shared stories of how an intervention and treatment kept a client out of trouble. Others addressed the cost savings that accrue from keeping people out of jails.
Gov. Nixon praised the work of the roundtable and the audience. “I appreciate the leadership that we have here on the ground,” he said.
The local collaboration between mental health and police departments creates a durable program that can make a significant difference in the community.
For more information about SHS Behavioral Health Services, contact us at 816-922-1070.