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TDMHSAS Awards Alternative Transportation Grant to Madison County

State award follows national recognition for mental health and law enforcement collaboration
Thursday, March 22, 2018 | 12:56pm

JACKSON—The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has awarded its first-ever Alternative Transportation Pilot Project grant to Madison County Government.  The grant amount of $333,000 will address the transportation requirements of people in need of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization.

The goals of the pilot project include:

  • Assessing alternative approaches to safely and humanely transport some psychiatric patients to Regional Mental Health Institutes (RMHI) for assessment/admission
  • Implementing identified approaches for the transportation or escort of individuals in need of emergency involuntary psychiatric hospitalization
  • Evaluating identified approaches to assist in supporting replication and sustainability throughout the state

“In working with the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, as well as mental health consumer and community provider groups, we want to find ways in which we can avoid adding to trauma by developing more suitable methods to transport a person than a lengthy and difficult trip, often in the back of a police cruiser,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams.

The alternative transportation pilot project grant award follows a national recognition for Madison County leaders.  The Madison County Sheriff’s Office was chosen by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance for the Law Enforcement-Mental Health Learning Site initiative.

MCSO’s selection for this program highlighted the community’s tireless work to establish collaboration between law enforcement, first responders, behavioral health providers, medical professionals, state government, and other stakeholders.

“We have established such a unique network of partnerships that we really believe we can work together to meet any challenge,” said Madison County Sheriff John R. Mehr.  “Our success in pre-arrest diversion and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training combined with this new designation means we have the opportunity to positively influence departments around the region and touch countless lives in Tennessee as well as other states.”

With the addition of Madison County and the other new agencies, the initiative includes a total of ten learning sites across the country.  Other notable cities that were among the first sites established in 2010 include Los Angeles, Houston, and Salt Lake City.

“When we meet with counterparts from other states at conferences and events, it’s surprising to hear that they don’t have the resources and support that we have at the state and local level,” said Kim Parker, Director of Inpatient and Crisis Services at Pathways Behavioral Health Services.  “Leadership and decisions made at all levels are putting Tennessee ahead of our peer states when it comes to caring for people who need help with behavioral health issues.”

Learn more about the Pre-Arrest Diversion Infrastructure Project at this link: https://www.tn.gov/behavioral-health/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-for-adults0/pre-arrest-diversion-infrastructure-program.html

Learn more about the Law Enforcement-Mental Health Learning Site initiative in this BJA News Release: https://csgjusticecenter.org/law-enforcement/announcements/expansion-of-the-national-law-enforcement-mental-health-learning-site-program