Overwhelmed with mental health calls, six rural sheriffs make their own plan for better response

©Grant Blankenship/GPB: The stretch of Deepstep Road in Washington County where Eurie Martin fatally encountered Washington County Sheriff's deputies in 2017. In many cases, law enforcement officers are not prepared to handle mental health crisis calls.

Cover-up Alleged in Pottawatomie County Jail Deaths

Shelly Cailler says goodbye to her wife, Kellie Wright, after Wright was detained at the Pottawatomie County jail. ©Todd Pendleton/The Oklahoman

This Harris County program serves the most vulnerable. But it won’t bail them out of jail.

Aaron Morris, 27, shows a photo of him and his mother, Richelle, from elementary school on his cellphone at his Jefferson City, Mo., home in August. Richelle, who was found mentally incapacitated in 2003, is currently in a vegetative state after having a heart attack in the Harris County Jail in February. ©Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Landing

PA’s controversial mental health law on involuntary treatment stands to get a test run more than 3 years after its passing.

©Adobe Stock/Photo illustration: Natasha Vicens/PublicSource
©Adobe Stock/Photo illustration: Natasha Vicens/PublicSource

PublicSource, July 5, 2022, by Juliette Rihl: Paul and Christine, of Montgomery County, know what it feels like to helplessly watch their child’s mental health deteriorate.

After two hospitalizations in 2020 and 2021 for mental health crises, their 30-year-old son stopped taking his medication and following other aspects of his treatment plan. He rarely leaves his room, doesn’t make eye contact and goes days without bathing, Paul said — all symptoms of the early stages of psychosis.

“We’re still in crisis. Every day is [a] crisis,” said Paul, who has requested his last name be withheld to protect their family’s identity.

Paul and Christine believe their son, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2020 and, later, unspecified psychosis, might be more likely to comply with treatment if it were mandated by a court. But for now, the only thing they can do is watch his condition worsen.

There’s a three-year-old Pennsylvania law in place that the family thinks could help him, but it has never been used, according to the state Department of Human Services.

In some counties, though, that’s about to change. Five counties across the state — Bucks and Dauphin, along with Carbon, Monroe and Pike, which operate their mental health services together — are gearing up to launch Pennsylvania’s first assisted outpatient treatment pilot programs by 2023, if not sooner, thanks to grant funds provided by the state.

Read more at PublicSource here.

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