Gregg County Wellness Collaborative is a joint effort with Community HealthCore to help reduce recidivism for mentally ill inmates and patients in local hospitals and within the jail systems in Longview, Texas.
All the stakeholders share the same mission: to break cycle of recidivism for mentally ill prisoners in the local emergency care and legal systems.
Recidivism: Longview Police Acting as Mental Health Officers
Lt. James Bettis of the special operations division of Longview Police Department says one of the goals of the partnership is for 25% of the city’s patrol officers to be certified as mental health officers to reduce recidivism.
To earn certification, officers need to complete 40-hour training. Periodically, they also have to go through an eight-hour refresher course on crisis intervention training.
“From the police perspective, instead of jail, maybe (mentally ill residents) can get help with Community HealthCore. If we put them in jail and they get let out, that doesn’t do them any good.”
This goal may not be hard to achieve. Longview police officers have already had some form of training on how to handle mentally ill residents, says Sgt. Shane McCarter, spokesperson for Longview police.
Reducing Recidivism for Mentally Ill Inmates & Patients
Collab Seeks to Help Both Patients & Prisoners
According to Stanley Williams, director of strategic initiatives for Community HealthCore, Gregg County Wellness Collaborative seeks to avoid recidivism in jails and emergency rooms. This can be done by directing them to mental health services as soon as possible.
For inmates, this needs to be done upon intake. Williams comments:
“For years, a number of folks have recycled through the system over and over. We want to reduce recidivism and look at the cases that continually cycle through the system of crisis and emergency care within the legal and health system. We want police officers to have training with our psychiatrist and our licensed counselors for signs to look out for, signs and symptoms.”
Support from Longview Hospitals to Reduce Recidivism for Mentally Ill Inmates & Patients
The Gregg County Wellness Collaborative effort has gotten the support of Episcopal Health Foundation and Christus Good Shepherd Health System.
Episcopal Health Foundation is providing technical and other assistance to reduce recidivism. Christus Good Shepherd Health System, on the other hand, has worked towards improving how mentally ill patients are being cared for.
It seems that the partnership is starting to reap the fruits of its labor.
Since Gregg County Wellness Collaborative started in February, the number of repeat patients in the local health care system has started to decline.
The hospital, however, is seeing more patients due to the increasing number of mentally ill people in homeless shelters, says Jennifer Wood, clinical director of behavioral health for Christus Good Shepherd Health System.