Mental health program could be coming to Limestone County Jail

Limestone County jail workers say they are in the middle of a mental health crisis.

Posted: Oct 15, 2019 7:39 PM
Updated: Oct 16, 2019 7:39 AM

The Limestone County Commission will vote Monday on a program to help with the mental health crisis.

Workers at the Limestone County Jail said they are facing a mental health crisis. If the Limestone County Commission votes to become a "stepping up county," the new program could potentially fix that.

"Mental health just doesn't solve itself overnight," Limestone County Chairman Collin Daly said.

Daly says the Stepping Up Initiative is a good program, and becoming a "stepping up county" would be a positive thing for them.

The Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama is the lead organization of the Stepping Up Initiative.

In 2018, the organization received a grant to start the initiative in Morgan County. This year, they received more funding to expand it.

The Stepping Up coordinator, Kathy Goodwin, said Limestone County heard about how successful it was in Morgan County and asked if they could expand it to Limestone County.

"Naturally, with growth, you have more mental health issues and it's something that's not gonna go away. It's here to stay," Daly said.

The goal is to reduce the number of inmates with mental illness in jail by giving them resources and places to go for help, so they don't re-offend and go back to jail.

If approved, a case manager will be assigned to work with inmates in the Limestone County Jail. They will also work with patients at the hospital who are frequently being re-admitted.

People who live in Limestone County say this is a good thing.

"I hope that the people can get the help they need," Mark Wilson, who lives in Limestone County, said.

Wilson said he has people in his family who suffer from mental health disorders and says he hopes this initiative will open more doors for people to get help.

"It's hard to get help. It's really hard to get help here in Athens," Wilson said.

Goodwin said they are currently collecting data from last year's efforts in Morgan County so they can be able to tell how many people in the program didn't go back to jail or weren't re-admitted. She said if the Limestone County Commission does vote to become a "stepping up county," the program will begin shortly after.

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