RVBH donates $10k to mental health court

July 15th, 2019

RiverValley Behavioral Health has provided additional funds to finance the creation of a mental health court in Daviess County.

RiverValley president and CEO Wanda Figueroa said Tuesday the mental health and substance abuse treatment facility decided Tuesday to provide $10,000 to the mental health court program.

On Monday, officials involved with mental health court announced the county had received a $77,000 grant from the state Department of Corrections for the program.

RiverValley board chairman Jeff Jones contacted county attorney Claud Porter about RVBH providing the extra funds Tuesday morning, Porter said.

“Jeff saw it in the paper this morning,” Porter said. RiverValley officials “are willing to make that contribution.”

Figueroa said RiverValley “will be stepping up to the plate … to make sure (mental health court) is implemented.”

The idea behind mental health courts is to intervene in criminal court cases where the defendant is believed to suffer from a mental health issue. Those referred to the program will be evaluated for mental health disorders.

For those ruled incompetent to stand trial, mental health court would work to find permanent placements for them where they could receive treatment. Currently, a person found incompetent is sent to a state mental hospital to be stabilized, and then is released.

For others in the program, court officials will create a treatment plan that will be enforceable by the judge. Those treatment plans will include staying on medication. The court would also work to secure treatment and housing for people in the program and would require some defendants maintain employment.

If a person follows their treatment plan, the criminal charge against him or her would be discharged.

Keeping people with mental disorders out of jails, which are not designed to provide treatment, is important, Figueroa said.

“It’s the most humane thing to do, because jails definitely should not be the place for people to receive mental health treatment,” Figueroa said. Later, Figueroa added “we have an over-population of people with mental health needs in the criminal justice system.”

Figueroa said RiverValley wants to be a part of the mental health court process by providing evaluations and access to treatment.

“We have a full spectrum of services, and we want to be more of a resource to the court system” from when a person arrives in court, Figueroa said.

Daviess District Judge Lisa Payne Jones, who will preside over mental health court, said other agencies are providing help to make the court functions.

“We got a call from the Boulware (Mission), saying they would be happy to offer beds” for mental health court clients, Jones said. Audubon Area Community Services’ care clinic has also volunteered to work with clients who need assistance with medication, Jones said.

“St. Benedict’s (Homeless Shelter) has offered assistance, Friends of Sinners has offered assistance,” Jones said. “We have several community partners reaching out and offering those basic needs.”

The additional funds from RiverValley will help mental health court officials provide needed items such as hygiene products, transportation to appointments and help with medication, Jones said.

“This is the happy news” Jones said of the RiverValley donation. “… Now, we know we can do it. We feel much, much more secure.”

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse