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Kentucky Plans Specialized Mental Health Services

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Kentucky has received $50,000 to develop additional services to better serve people in the criminal justice system with severe mental illness, the Department for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addiction Services (DMHDDAS) announced today. The funding comes from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati and will support a planning grant for the northern Kentucky region of the state.

"We greatly appreciate this opportunity to enhance collaboration across agencies," said Betsy Dunnigan, DMHDDAS deputy commissioner. "This will allow for continued improvement in the system of care for people with severe mental illness."

The Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in DMHDDAS will administer the funding, which will be used to work on a strategic plan to provide a continuum of services for people who have been incarcerated or are otherwise in the criminal justice system and have some form of mental illness.

"We are excited to receive this funding and are looking forward to working with our state and northern Kentucky partners to create the groundwork for improved services," said Donna Hillman, director of the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

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The funds will be used to establish a monthly, state-level advisory committee, a regional conference and a strategic planning retreat.

"The goal is to help identify gaps and barriers in services for individuals with mental illness who may come into contact with the criminal justice system," said Rita Ruggles, project director. "This grant will also help us move toward an integrated system of care."

The grant is a collaborative effort with in-kind contributions of state and non-profit staff time and resources, in addition to Health Foundation funding. Among the partners in the grant are the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Protection and Advocacy, NorthKey Community Care, Northern Kentucky University, Administrative Office of the Courts and Bluegrass Regional Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board.

Areas of focus will include a concentration on client confidentiality for data sharing, professional training on various behavioral health issues and outcome measurement as it relates to the performance of multiple projects.

The culmination of the grant will be an action plan to provide guidance to the state and regions regarding program development designed to reduce the numbers of people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders who are incarcerated inappropriately in northern Kentucky. The action plan will address systematic, programmatic and clinical practices to be utilized across Kentucky.