Sheriff’s office gets grant to to respond to mental health challenges of inmates

BOURNE – Thanks to a $30,000 award from the Cape Cod Healthcare’s Community Benefits Fund, Sheriff James M. Cummings will be expanding services for inmates who have a mental health issue.

The funding will allow the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) to institute a Coordinated Mental Health Interventions (CMHI) program which will include:

1) Expanding mental health care for incarcerated individuals presenting severe mental illness.
2) Providing mental health training and education for correctional officers.
3) Enhancing coordinated reentry planning to ensure a stable transition to the community.

More specifically, during a 12-month period, the program will target to treat and assist at least 50 individuals incarcerated at BCSO who present with serious mental illness.  Specialized mental health care will involve using evidence-based mental health treatment models that have been proven effective for the incarcerated population such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Participants will be actively building coping skills to make healthy life changes while managing their symptoms.  Coordinated re-entry planning will include providing community referral resources to both pre-trial and sentenced inmates so they can be linked to community mental health providers.

Additionally, BCSO staff will focus on building relationships and alliances with local community organizations that provide treatment for released prisoners including behavioral and substance abuse treatment providers. The program will include educating pre-trial inmates around local community resources for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Lastly, experienced, licensed mental health clinicians will provide training for correctional officers on mental health so they can more easily identify and report mental health related concerns and provide needed assistance during crisis interventions.

The program’s main goals are to:
1) Stabilize individuals who suffer from serious mental illness through evidence-based interventions.
2) Increase the level of knowledge on mental health issues and proper interventions among correctional officers.
3) Increase the number of released inmates who seek and receive mental health treatment upon release.

In response to receiving the award, Sheriff Cummings stated, “Over the last few years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of incarcerated individuals who are suffering from a mental illness.  In response to the growing challenges presented to our correctional facility, I am very appreciative of our partners from Cape Cod Healthcare for their support.  These funds will allow us to provide individualized treatment and planning.  Our shared goal is to continue to reduce crime and help those who are struggling with a mental illness.”

Media release furnished by Barnstable Sheriff’s Office
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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